Wednesday, 29 December 2004

Granta 84

Listening to:

Nothing; everyone else in the house seems to be asleep even though it’s the middle of the afternoon. This is what being on holiday does to you.

Just read:

Granta 84: over there: how America sees the world (contents)

This issue of the literary magzine is a follow-up to Granta 77, which was subtitled What we think of America, and contained lots of comment about America’s place in the world after 11 September, 2001. The new issue turns the first issue’s question on its head, and asks a variety of Americans about how they see the rest of the world.

This issue is better than the first because the political tinge to the writing is reduced. Instead, the writers give a variety of different accounts about leaving the embrace of America and exposing themselves to the world beyond America’s borders. For some this came as a blessed release. Others found that it made them appreciate what they had in America all the more. I also liked these short pieces because of the varying time periods discussed. Some authors chose to describe formative contact with the rest of the world that happened 30 or more years ago.

In the rest of the issue, I particularly liked James Buchan’s piece This is Centerville about a small town in the US, Julian Barnes’s story Knowing French, and Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s story Farangs, featuring a cute pet pig. Weakest in the issue was Man walks into a bar, an excerpt from a novel by James Kelman.