Currently Reading: Chapter II

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surfer
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Currently Reading: Chapter II

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J.M. Coetzee - Summertime

nicenick
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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so far, quite good. his short stories didn't do much for me but these miniature sketches of various authors' lives (dinesen, conrad, mishima, falkner, etc) are quite amusing and occasionally very poignant. somewhat confusing as to how much is true and how much fiction -- marias says in the introducton that he has made up "almost nothing." there's a good quote that he attributes to isak dinesen:

"There is no mystery in art. Do the things you can see, they will show you what you cannot see."

but cannot find any source for the quote except marias...

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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some fantastic stories here, though all very dense. taking me far longer to read than i expected.

m

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surfer
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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nicenick wrote: marias says ...
I used to like his column in The Believer. I even got a free novel of his (sold it without reading it, alas) when I renewed. Gerardo has been trying to get me to read his stuff. What's his best work?

nicenick
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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surfer wrote:
nicenick wrote: marias says ...
I used to like his column in The Believer. I even got a free novel of his (sold it without reading it, alas) when I renewed. Gerardo has been trying to get me to read his stuff. What's his best work?
i've only read "while the women are sleeping" which i didn't love -- found it via a bolano name-check (from http://www.molossus.co/prose/non-fictio ... t-stories/) and was hoping for something vaguely in the mood of "last evenings on earth," but it's much more mannered and formal, quite dry (in a humorous & ironic sort of way). i've seen the "your face tomorrow" series mentioned as his best work but have no idea myself. would be curious to hear what others think.

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

Post by mudd »

i've only read two, but 'bad nature, or with elvis in mexico' is a great short introduction, and 'a heart so white' is a more serious and substantial work. i have several others on my to read list, including 'your face tomorrow' and 'tomorrow in the battle think on me'.

m

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Gerardo A
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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mudd wrote:i've only read two, but 'bad nature, or with elvis in mexico' is a great short introduction, and 'a heart so white' is a more serious and substantial work. i have several others on my to read list, including 'your face tomorrow' and 'tomorrow in the battle think on me'.

m
Of his novels, I've only read 'A heart so white' and 'Tomorrow in the battle think on me', and they're both great. AHSW is particularly "famous" among translators/interpreters because of the main characters of the story (husband and wife). I think Marias is great, but maybe smacking of "formal" and "good workshop writing", as compared to the more rambunctious Bolaño moments. A word that nicenick used is great, "mannered".

No dis to Marias, though, he's been called one of the best novelists in the Spanish language for the past couple of decades, he's a good short-story writer too, and also a pretty decent (albeit a little conservative) columnist. And a great translator himself, to boot (i.e., his is the best version of Tristram Shandy in Spanish).

But, returning again to nicenick's comment on looking for someone more like certain Bolaño moments, I recommend much more Enrique Vila-Matas (particularly 'Bartleby and Co.', I think I had just mentioned it on the last iteration of this thread). Also Rodrigo Fresan (both Fresán and Vila-Matas are a little bit more mannered than Bolaño, too, yet Fresán is very whimsical some times).
Last edited by Gerardo A on Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Gerardo A
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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Not that anyone asked, but of young Mexican fiction writers, I can really endorse a couple whose stuff I've loved recently, like Antonio Ortuño and Yuri Herrera (he has a great recent novel on narco culture, which apart from Bolaño's books 3 and 4 of "2666", and a couple of other things -more essays than novels-, it's a topic that hasn't been always dealt with quite with the effect I like to read). And of the formerly young but now slightly mature guys, some of the ones I like the most are Guillermo Fadanelli (he's been writing for a couple of decades now, his novel "Lodo" is particularly great), David Toscana (bleak and desolate, the Camus of Northern narco culture), and Eduardo Antonio Parra (another Northern Mexico guy, as bleak as Toscana some times, but with a mystical/magick streak every now and then which is really interesting to me).

[EDIT] Sadly, I have no idea if any of them have been translated into English yet.

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

Post by mudd »

another post on the mexican front for you, gerardo: have you ready any of the authors included in this collection http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/book/?GCOI=15647100649060

i thought the collection was pretty enjoyable, some quite strong stories. i don't know how well they represent 'contemporary fiction' in mexico.

m

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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Gerardo A wrote:I recommend much more Enrique Vila-Matas (particularly 'Bartleby and Co.', I think I had just mentioned it on the last iteration of this thread).
yes! i loved "bartleby", a really fascinating book. a great resource for me for discovering other writers: turned me on to hoffmansthal, joubert, rulfo. was very close to picking up "never any end to paris" recently but trying to limit myself at the moment to reading only what i already own. read a good interview with him here:

http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011 ... -to-paris/
Gerardo A wrote:Not that anyone asked, but of young Mexican fiction writers...
hey, thanks for this! i spent some time a little while ago trying to find some good recommendations for mexican fiction but didn't come up with much (not speaking spanish is something of an impediment). i'll add these to my look-out-for list, tho most of them do seem to be untranslated. and mudd, thanks for the link: looks like a good collection.

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Gerardo A
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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Mudd, that does seem like a pretty good collection, most of them are heavyweights (I only don't know a couple), although no one is under 45 or 40, I think. I'll look over it more later this afternoon (just glanced at your link).

And Nick, "Never any end to Paris" is actually pretty great too, if you have the interest later, do get it. His more recent novel, "Dublinesca", sounds pretty interesting too:

“One night, a prestigious and now retired literary publisher has a very vivid and real dream that takes place in Dublin, a city he’s never visited. The central scene of the dream is a funeral in the era of the printing press, held in homage to Ulysses. (...) In this novel, Enrique Vila-Matas traces a majestic journey across a bridge that connects the world of Joyce with that of Beckett, and what they symbolize: great literature and evidence of the difficulties faced by literary authors, pedigree publishers and in the end, good readers, to survive in a society that bounds towards stupidity.”

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Gerardo A
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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Here is a pretty great resource for contemporary-ish Mexican lit, the guy is from an American university but writes in Spanish a lot (although there are several entries in English, IIRC), he hasn't updated it in a while though:

http://mexlit.wordpress.com/

Through him I found this great, long-as-hell essay by Jorge Volpi (pretty famous MX author, only have read his earlier stuff which I didn't enjoy very much, but he has two much longer "total novels" that are apparently great and I would like to read eventually), who makes a pretty thorough assessment of Mexican/Latin American/Spaniard lit (very Bolaño-phile, of course, but this maybe comes with the territory--marketing--given that the interview was made in the US, in English, for an American audience. Not that we all shouldn't be Bolaño-philes, which we should, IMHO).

"Volpi addresses the works of some of the sacred cows of the Latin American tradition (Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Rulfo, Jorge Luis Borges), highlights some of the up-and-coming stars of contemporary fiction (Roberto Bolaño, Santiago Roncagliolo, Edmundo Paz-Soldán), and looks to some who are not as well known but hopefully will be in the near future (Yuri Herrera, Élmer Mendoza, Martín Solares)."

Like I said, it's pretty long and thorough, it's in five parts:

http://www.rochester.edu/College/transl ... hp?id=2322
http://www.rochester.edu/College/transl ... hp?id=2323
http://www.rochester.edu/College/transl ... hp?id=2324
http://www.rochester.edu/College/transl ... hp?id=2325
http://www.rochester.edu/College/transl ... hp?id=2326

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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my copy of that arrives here today too, looking forward (ugly cover, though).

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Gerardo A
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

Post by Gerardo A »

Yeah, that's pretty ugly. The original Spanish cover isn't that much better either, but it doesn't suck:

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Also, I'd be interested to hear how you guys like it. FWIW, just keep in mind that, in a way, Book 1 is about the world literary scene (but not from a local point of view as in Savage Detectives), Book 2 is a treatise on schizophrenia and about Spain--seen through the eyes of a South American immigrant (Bolaño was one, too), Book 3 is the first glimpse of the Ciudad Juarez hell, but seen through the eyes of a black American journalist, Book 4 is basically the account of the women deaths in Juarez, and Book 5 is the most classical, epic, literary part of the book, that ties everything together, a writer's hommage to the XX century. Kind of like how each of the five seasons of The Wire has a main specific target for reflection (police-gangster struggle and building legacies, unions and decaying legacies, city politics/elections, youth/education, media/state politics/the act of governing).

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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I thought folks here might be interested in these interrelated blogs dealing with world literature translated into English:

http://www.rochester.edu/college/transl ... eepercent/

http://www.readthisnext.org/

nicenick
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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man, gerardo, thanks for all the links! that volpi essay looks great but there's no print button on that site (?) so i converted it to a PDF, uploading it here in case it makes anyone else's life easier:

http://ifile.it/dzgfwnu

so this thread inspired me to pick up "never any end to paris" last week and just finished it yesterday. really good stuff, sort of a self-deprecating take on the writer-in-paris myths of hemingway, cortazar, et al. can't wait for dublinesca -- wish there were more vila-matas translations out there.

re: "2666", but also "never any end to paris": one of the things i love the most about bolaño and vila-matas is the sense i get from their novels that literature is of the utmost importance, something worth fighting for, something heroic (if also a little pathetic and ultimately doomed), something (to perhaps overstate bolaño, but only a little) worth dying for. vila-matas is much more circumspect and gentle and ironic -- there's a little bit of charlie chaplin to him, i think -- but both give me the same sort of jolt & send me back to the bookstore with a list of thirty books i'd never heard of before.

looking forward to hearing more takes on "2666"; think i'm still digesting it six months later. it has one of my favorite quotes:
[The pharmacist] chose the Metamorphosis over The Trial, he chose Bartleby over Moby-Dick, he chose A Christmas Carol over A Tale of Two Cities. What a sad paradox, thought Amalfitano. Now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze paths into the unknown. They choose the perfect exercises of the great masters. Or what amounts to the same thing: they want to watch the great masters spar, but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.
and, inspired by vila-matas, my current reading material:

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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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as if the cover of 2666 wasn't bad enough, my copy just got here and there is a pull-quote on the spine running alongside the title (so when it is in a bookcase, you can still see the quote). I've never seen that before and it's very annoying and unnecessary.

nicenick
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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jon abbey wrote:as if the cover of 2666 wasn't bad enough, my copy just got here and there is a pull-quote on the spine running alongside the title (so when it is in a bookcase, you can still see the quote). I've never seen that before and it's very annoying and unnecessary.
return it and get the three volume version!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/037453 ... fl_title_3

it's really beautiful. though i don't mind the single paperback version; i actually kind of like the cover. much better than the UK one:

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Gerardo A
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Re: Currently Reading: Chapter II

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Herb Levy wrote:I thought folks here might be interested in these interrelated blogs dealing with world literature translated into English:

http://www.rochester.edu/college/transl ... eepercent/

http://www.readthisnext.org/
These look great, thanks!
nicenick wrote:that volpi essay looks great but there's no print button on that site (?) so i converted it to a PDF, uploading it here in case it makes anyone else's life easier:

http://ifile.it/dzgfwnu
You're welcome man, and thanks for compiling that pdf, just got it myself too so it's easier to read.

I really agree with this:
nicenick wrote:re: "2666", but also "never any end to paris": one of the things i love the most about bolaño and vila-matas is the sense i get from their novels that literature is of the utmost importance, something worth fighting for, something heroic (if also a little pathetic and ultimately doomed), something (to perhaps overstate bolaño, but only a little) worth dying for. vila-matas is much more circumspect and gentle and ironic -- there's a little bit of charlie chaplin to him, i think -- but both give me the same sort of jolt & send me back to the bookstore with a list of thirty books i'd never heard of before.
Well written.

Oh and the other two covers of that 3-volume set actually look great, even the first one makes a little more sense now. But that UK cover, geez. :(

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