Mean Free Path
by Ben Lerner
$16.00 List Price
The sound of pencil on paper can be soothing. At least Robert Walser found it so. Early on, the Swiss modernist author abandoned all other writing tools, scratching out stories in a minuscule stenographic script. THE MICROSCRIPTS (New Directions, May) reproduces twenty-five of these engaging mini-masterpieces, crafted in the 1920s on envelopes, slips of paper, and even calendar pages, along with English translations by Susan Bernofsky of the large-hearted stories about schnapps and small-town life within.
As the narrator of Elias Khoury's WHITE MASKS (Archipelago, April; translated by Maia Tabet), says: "When the author's in the dark, the plot really does thicken." In this case, that's a journalist who records others' accounts of a man's murder. Through these voices, a jagged portrait of Beirut and its
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