Paul La Farge

Our very own Mr. Hanson-Finger sent me to this very cool companion website for the new Paul La Farge book, Luminous Airplanes. La Farge says this new work of his falls under the genre of “hyperromance” a term that harkens back to the “hypertext” novels of the late 80’s and 90’s. He claims the reason they failed was because the writers of hypertext novels never got beyond the gimmick; I think it may have more to do with the differences in technology between now and then, and how much more we rely on the internet as a whole. But I digress.

The website for the book is really great. It is beautiful, well designed and easy to navigate. On top of which, Gary Shteyngart has said some very complimentary things: “He (Le Farge) has created as thoroughly imagined a world as you would expect from Chekhov or Flaubert…” Damn. Either way, it will be interesting to see if any other authors try their hand at the “hyperromance”. 

Five days later Baron Haussmann dreams that he is once again the Prefect of Paris. His administration is put in charge of the seasons of the year: summer, fall, spring, etc. He draws up a plan for a system of warehouses in which the best-known features of each season will be stored: the summer smell of hot stone, the graying skies of autumn, the snow dirtied by Parisian feet, the trees in blossom. He also designs a network of channels by which each season can be delivered to the city within a week at most. We could change seasons seven or eight times a year, easily, he notes in his report to the municipal council, or we could add new seasons to satisfy the needs of a growing population: sprall, a season of mist and fine rain, good for gathering various fruits in the forest; or fammer, a hot, gray, still season, suitable for riots. Not long after these “weather axes” become operational, the Baron learns there was a fire in the warehouse where they keep the spring, and that the vernal season has been entirely destroyed. Now the question arises, what are they going to do on March 21? Baron Haussmann can’t decide whether or not to have an early summer or draw the winter out. He wakes up, still unable to choose between the two.

“Burning of Spring” from The Facts of Winter written by Paul Poissel and translated by Paul La Farge. The book is a “record of the dreams of people made up by a writer who is himself a fiction.”


Looking to add some fiction to your bookshelf? Look no further.

PEN is pleased to present the ten works of debut fiction that have been longlisted for the 2015 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, nominated by judges Caroline Fraser, Katie Kitamura, Paul La Farge, and Victor LaValle.

Browse the many longlisted titles for PEN’s other 2015 awards here: