jueves, 17 de enero de 2013

Bolaño cercano


Bolaño cercano (Candaya DVD, 2008)
Directed by Erik Haasnoot
Spain, 2008
In Spanish

"Favorite author documentaries" essentially being a brand new film genre to me, I was quadruply jazzed to discover that my hunt for this 45-minute Roberto Bolaño doc--generously included as a bonus disc alongside the 502-page Bolaño salvaje, a book of essays about and reminiscences on the Chilean novelist/poet published by the Barcelona-based Editorial Candaya--would also lead me to four other book and documentary pairings from Candaya with texts such as Ana Rodríguez Fischer's Ronda Marsé (on Juan Marsé), Jorge Carrión's El lugar de Piglia (on Ricardo Piglia), Margarita Heredia Zubieta's Vila-Matas portátil (on Enrique Vila-Matas), and José Ramón Ruisánchez's & Oswaldo Zavala's Materias dispuestas: Juan Villoro ante la crítica (on Juan Villoro) all accompanied by separate DVDs of their own.  In fact, I almost felt like a niche blogger's version of the f'n Octomom given all this Spanish language literature largesse even before I found out that the Piglia title came with a bonus documental on famous Argentinean wacko Macedonio Fernández.  Score!  While I should have lots more to say about the other essay collections and DVDs in coming weeks, right now I'd like to direct your attention to Dutch filmmaker Erik Haasnoot's low-key Bolaño cercano [a difficult to translate title approximating something like Bolaño, Up Close and Personal], which offers up a sympathetic portrait of Bolaño as a loving family man and tireless reader and writer and teases with ever so brief glimpses of his personal library and countless spiral notebooks filled with rough drafts of his novels and poetry and even comic book-like drawings and illustrations. Since the previously unreleased film's a relatively simple affair that largely switches back and forth between a group interview with Bolaño's widow Carolina López and Bolaño writer friends Enrique Vila-Matas and A.G. Porta in Blanes, Spain (left to right above) and one on one interviews with fellow Bolaño writer pals Rodrigo Fresán in Barcelona and Juan Villoro in Mexico City respectively, I'm going to bypass any further commentary on the work to leave space for the transcription of several exchanges which caught my attention for one reason or another (please note that my Spanish is unsteady enough that I could have easily made a transcription error or two here and there without being aware of it--a translation caveat emptor and all that).

Rodrigo Fresán on what he likes about the experimental aspects of Bolaño's poetry and prose
Yo, me cuesta mucho separar los libros.  Es como una especie de organismo multicelular respondiendo a un único supercerebro.  El caso de Enrique Vila-Matas es el mismo, por ejemplo,  Nabokov es el mismo.  El caso de Borges es el mismo, ¿no?  Son escritores que me parece que les preocupa más la visión total y panorámica de las cosas más que de concentrándose en hechos aislados o en libros o en historias autoconcluyentes, ¿no?

[It's a lot of work for me to sort out the books from one another.  It's like a kind of multicellular organism responding to a lone superbrain.  The case of Enrique Vila-Matas is the same, for example, Nabokov is the same.  Borges' case is the same, no?  They are writers who, it seems to me, are more concerned with the overall panoramic vision of things than with concentrating on isolated facts or in books or in stories that are self-contained, you know?]

Enrique Vila-Matas, in response to a question from A.G. Porta (co-author with Bolaño of the 1984 Consejos de un discípulo de Morrison a un fanático de Joyce [Advice from a Morrison Disciple to a Joyce Fanatic]), on the noticeable changes in Bolaño's writing as he raced against the clock of his premature death
Bueno, es asombroso.  Los cambios de Estrella distante a Los detectives y de Los detectives a 2666. hay muchos altos y iba ganando en fuerzas, asombrosamente, en muy poco espacio de tiempo.  La  palabra es intensidad, claro.  Con el tiempo que hay entre la publicación de Estrella distante hasta su último libro es un espacio creo de son de 7 o 8 años en los cuales era una especie de tour de force de gran intensidad y de grandes cambios de registro de que estamos pocos acostumbrados en los escritores.

[Well, it's astonishing.  The changes from Distant Star to the Detectives and from the Detectives to 2666.  There are a lot of high points and he was gaining in power, astonishingly, in a very short space of time.  The word is intensity, clearly.  With the time that there is in between the publication of Distant Star until his last book is a period, I believe, of 7 or 8 years in which there was a sort of tour de force of great intensity and of great changes in register which we're not very accustomed to seeing in writers.]

Bolaño's widow agrees, adding that the confidence he gained from knowing Anagrama would publish each book that he wrote and, especially, "la próximidad de la enfermedad le dió mucha más esfuerza" ["the proximity of his illness gave him much more strength"] to risk more in his final writings.

Fresán on where The Savage Detectives fits in within Latin American literature as a whole
Me parece que la gran proeza de la novela, y al mismo tiempo también la enorme astucia de Roberto, está en manipular, reordenar, resignificar y [?] materiales más transitados, más obvios y incluso más erosionados de la gran novela latinoamericana-- la dictadura, el exilio, cierta épica de la derrota, el malditismo de los poetas  --y presentar eso en una manera completa, y total y absolutamente nueva. ¿No?  Sin traicionar la escenografía habitual de lo que supone es la gran novela latinoamericana.  En el sentido de que Los detectives salvajes o 2666 digamos tienen la misma rareza respetuosa que de repente tuvo en su momento 2001: Odisea del espacio de Stanley Kubrick.  En el sentido de que es una película de ciencia ficción, respeta todas de las variantes bastante conocidas del género como, no sé, la súbita aparencia de una inteligencia extraterrestre de una máquina Hal, problemas tecno de astronauta, pero todas contadas de una manera completamente original y nueva.

[It seems to me that the novel's great feat, and at the same time Roberto's enormous cleverness, is in manipulating, reordering, resignifying and [?] materials more common, more obvious and even more eroded from the great Latin American novel--dictatorship, exile, a certain epic of defeat, the wretchedness of the poets--and presenting that in a completely and totally and absolutely new way.  No?  Without betraying the customary scenography of what one expects in the great Latin American novel.  In the sense that The Savage Detectives or 2666 let's say have the same respectful strangeness that 2001: A Space Odyssey suddenly had in its day.  In the sense that it's a work of science fiction, it respects all the fairly well-known variants of the genre like, I don't know, the sudden appearance of an extraterrestrial intelligence in a machine like Hal, technical problems of astronauts, but all told in a completely original and new way.

Juan Villoro on the appeal of The Savage Detectives
Creo que lo más interesante de este libro es precisamente la figura del detective salvaje.  Es alguien que investiga la realidad de manera rebelde.  Es un poeta que no necesariamente escribe obras poéticas.  O sea, no es un poeta cultural, no es un poeta que esté escribiendo poesía.  Puedo hacerlo, pero lo más importante es que él convierte la poesía en una forma de vida.  Él busca vivir poéticamente y esto es lo que yo creo es el gran atractivo de Los detectives salvajes.  Una obra donde la poesía es una forma de la acción, es lo que hacen los personajes, y de allí lo atractivo de lo que ha tenido.

[I think that the most interesting thing about this book is precisely the figure of the savage detective.  He's somebody who investigates reality in a rebellious way.  He's a poet who doesn't necessarily write poetic works.  Or rather, he's not a cultural poet, he's not a poet who's writing poetry.  He can do that, but the important thing is that he converts poetry into a form of life.  He seeks to live poetically, and this is what I think is what's most appealing about The Savage Detectives.  A work where poetry is a form of action, it's what the characters do, and from that stems the appeal that it's had.

The end: a question put to Bolaño in an old interview
¿Qué es lo que finalmente quiere que nos quede como gesto en el rostro a nosotros, sus lectores, cuando terminamos un libro suyo?

 Aquí hay dos respuestas, ésta es una muy buena pregunta.  Primero, que cada lector es dueño de su propio rostro y que yo no tengo nada que ver con el estado en que quede ese rostro.

Y, segundo, que si por casualidad cada lector ha podido ver en mis libros a alguien cercano a él, pues yo me daría por satisfecho.  Sobre todo a alguien cercano que no cerrara puertas, a alguien cercano que abra puertas y ventanas y que luego desaparezca, porque hay muchas cosas por leer y la vida no es tan breve como se piensa.

[What expression would you ultimately like us, your readers, to have left on our faces when we finish a book of yours?

Here are two answers, this is a very good question.  First, that each reader is master of his own face and that I don't have anything to do with the state in which that face remains.

And, second, that if by chance each reader has been able to see someone in my books that's close to him, then I'd consider myself satisfied.  Above all somebody similar who didn't close doors, somebody similar who opens doors and windows and then disappears, because there are many things to read and life isn't as short as one thinks.]

 Erik Haasnoot

16 comentarios:

  1. This sounds fascinating. I wonder if a subtitled version is available?

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    1. I thought it was very interesting, Séamus. I don't know that it's ever been translated into English, but I have seen Google Image shots of it with Italian subtitles. Maybe there's still hope...

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  2. Well gosh, if I could have my face changed by reading Bolano, I would do it! Yes!

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  3. Richard - just the kind of blog post that I love - a contribution that brings along something previously closed off to me thanks to the language barrier (also, it will be difficult to forget your octomom analogy, which is somewhat echoed in the Fresán quotation).

    What really strikes me here is that response from Bolaño himself about each reader being the "master of his own face" and the writer having little to do "with the state in which that face remains." I'm wondering if Javier Marias may have had this in mind in addition to Shakespeare when he picked Your Face Tomorrow as his trilogy title. Even if he didn't, it works nicely with Bolaño's conceit.

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    1. I always worry that the posts about stuff that's not available in English will tend to drive away more readers than they attract, Scott, so I'm very glad to receive your feedback about the value of this sort of an intro to the material. Too bad both translating and even writing in English often take me forever or I'd resolve the dilemma for good by having all my posts in both English and Spanish. Anyway, thanks for sharing. By the way, I agree that the comment of Bolaño's about disowning any sort of responsibility for his role in the reader/writer exchange--even if an ironic one--is striking, as is your parallel with the Javier Marías trilogy. Hadn't thought of that while reading Bolaño's comment, but it's a pleasant coincidence to think about nonetheless (esp. since it involves two of my favorite writers).

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  4. Great post & as stated above allowing me with my limited language skills access to something I wouldn't have been able to.

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    1. Thanks, Gary--glad you got something out of it. Will keep your comment and Scott's in mind the next time I think about posting about a Bolaño item that's not yet available in English.

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  5. I think I've seen parts of this in YouTube. Thanks for translating some great bits in it.

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    1. My pleasure, Rise. If I'm not mistaken, the whole thing's available on YouTube now though still without any English subtitles (as are a couple of other Bolaño nuggets that I haven't been able to dig up any hard copies of).

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  6. I have not read Bolaño but it sounds like I want to. It sounds like his plot, style and themes are right up my ally! Another author for my TBR list!

    I love the ideas of documentaries about authors. I will make it a point to catch some.

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    1. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, Brian, but I hope you get a chance to try Bolaño out for yourself soon. He's got three or four novels that I think are just exceptional and another three or four other works that are also very strong. Anyway, good luck tracking down some docs on your own favorite authors as well. Cheers!

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  7. hope someone releases an english language version even if its subtitled ,all the best stu

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    1. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you as well, Stu, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for that subtitled version of this to hit the streets someday. Cheers!

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  8. Thanks for writing about Bolaño cercano in English!

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    1. My pleasure, Erik--I enjoyed the work! Anyway, hope to see more films of yours in the future and my blogging friends would love see to Bolaño cercano in an English translation someday. Cheers!

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