lunes, 17 de julio de 2017

Spanish Lit Month 2017: 7/9-7/15 Links

Pedro Lemebel

Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza

David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
Nona's Room by Cristina Fernandez Cubas

Pat, South of Paris Books
Zigzag by José Carlos Somoza
Tears in Rain by Rosa Montero

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos
 "Las orquídeas negras de Mariana Callejas (o el centro cultural de la DINA)" by Pedro Lemebel

Simon Lavery, Tredynas Days
Written Lives by Javier Marías

Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
The Hive by Camilo José Cela
The Irish Sea by Carlos Maleno
Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

domingo, 9 de julio de 2017

Las orquídeas negras de Mariana Callejas (o el centro cultural de la DINA)


"Las orquídeas negras de Mariana Callejas (o el centro cultural de la DINA)"
by Pedro Lemebel
Chile, 1994

If this nightmarish two-page chronicle sounds like something straight out of a Roberto Bolaño novel, maybe that's because it helped inspire one.  At the height of the Pinochet dictatorship in the mid-1970s, a black-clad diva named Mariana Callejas presided over a swanky literary salon at her home in Santiago de Chile's exclusive Lo Curro neighborhood.  Callejas, well-known for her anti-Marxist views and apparently no stranger to the "aleteo buitre" ["vulturous flapping of wings"] of the secret police's unmarked cars in their comings and goings through this quiet, residential part of the capital, still managed to draw a crowd composed of the country's "jet set artístico" ["artistic jet set"]--an artistic elite that Lemebel (1952-2015, above) icily describes as "la desinvuelta clase cultural de esos años que no creía en historias de cadáveres y desaparecidos" ["the self-assured cultural class of those years which didn't believe in stories of cadavers and the disappeared"].  As time went on, though, this head in the sand posture became more difficult to maintain even for those most enamored of the free alcohol and the avant-garde aesthetic debates that flowed in abundance at Callejas' soirées.  Lemebel, who says he learned of the story as a 20-something and discussed his 1994 newspaper account of it with Bolaño shortly before the latter penned Nocturno de Chile [Chile by Night], explains that "todo el mundo veía y prefería no mirar, no saber, no escuchar" ["everybody saw and preferred not to look at, not to know anything about, not to hear"] any of the horrors beginning to be revealed by the international press even as Callejas' explanation of the accounts as "pura literatura tremendista" ["pure sensationalist literature"] meant to discredit the government rang hollow amid the telltale signs of something seriously wrong at her own house; it would later be revealed that the dying roses in the garden--supposedly caused by Callejas' husband's experiments with a gas to exterminate rats--and the intermittent surges in power at her parties that would make lights flicker and music be interrupted were due to state-sponsored torture sessions down in the basement where stray screams would occasionally punctuate the literary criticism and the "silencio necrófilo" ["necrophiliac silence"] that otherwise reigned supreme up above.


"Las orquídeas negras de Mariana Callejas (o el centro cultural de la DINA)" ["Mariana Callejas' Black Orchids (or the DINA's Cultural Center)"] first appeared in the Chilean newspaper La Nación in 1994.  It also appears as part of a book full of other Lemebel writings on pp. 112-114 of the collection Poco hombre.  Crónicas escogidas (Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Diego Portales, 2013).

Spanish Lit Month 2017: 7/1-7/8 Links


It was both a pleasure and a relief to see so many people join us for the first week of Spanish Lit Month 2017 despite our late announcement of this year's event.  And with the arrival of internet service at the new Caravana de recuerdos manor, it should be even easier to keep up with your output in future weeks.  In any event, here's a list of last week's SLM links--feel free to let me know if I've missed any posts either here or by e-mail or on Twitter (Richard@caravanablog) if you prefer to avoid Blogger's comments-squashing security apparatus.  In the meantime, happy reading!

Amateur Reader (Tom), Wuthering Expectations
for my joy in the tooth of the wheel - a glance at Lorca's poems

Grant, 1streading's Blog
Field of Honour by Max Aub
The Blue Hour by Alonso Cueto
The Children by Carolina Sanín

Joseph Schreiber, roughghosts
Colonel Lágrimas by Carlos Fonseca

Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
In the Land of Giants: Hunting Monsters in the Hindu Kush by Gabi Martínez

Melissa Beck, The Book Binder's Daughter
The Proof by César Aira

Pat, South of Paris Books
The Woman of Your Dreams by Antonio Sarabia
The Murky Waters of the Tigre by Alicia Plante
The Shadow of What We Were by Luis Sepúlveda
The Heart of the Tartar by Rosa Montero

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos
Dietario voluble by Enrique Vila-Matas

Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
Spanish Lit Month 2017
Nona's Room by Cristina Fernandez Cubas

miércoles, 5 de julio de 2017

Dietario voluble

Dietario voluble (Anagrama, 2010)
by Enrique Vila-Matas
Spain, 2008  

As its very title suggests, it's not entirely clear whether Vila-Matas' nonfiction-like Dietario voluble [Unhinged Diary] is really a diary at all or rather a novel only disguised as a diary--a matter the mischievous Spaniard doesn't help with when he confesses that the overarching theme of his work is "tal vez mi incapacidad de decir la verdad" ["perhaps my inability to tell the truth"] (183).  "Perhaps"!  Whatever the case may be, this book fiend's equivalent of a compilation album featuring one of your favorite artists' odds and sods finds Vila-Matas getting his anecdotal and aphoristic groove on with a series of soundbites dedicated to the reading and writing life.  In one 15-page span alone, for example, there are shout outs to the likes of Flaubert's pronouncements on the primacy of style ("La estética es una justicia superior" ["Aesthetics is a superior form of justice"]) (242); a tip of the hat to previously unknown to me author Ricardo Menéndez Salmón's fed up attack on "falsos escritores" ["false writers"]: "La literatura no es un oficio, es una enfermedad; uno no escribe para ganar dinero o caer bien a la gente, sino porque intenta curarse, porque está infectado, porque lo ha ganado la tristeza" ["Literature isn't a trade, it's a disease.  One doesn't write to make money or to sit well with people but to try to heal oneself, because one's infected, because sadness has gotten the upper hand"] (230); and a memorable inside baseball tidbit about a pair of Vila-Matas visits with Pierre Michon highlighted by Michon's definition of the three types of non-false writers that exist in the world: 1) "el bárbaro" ["the barbarian"], as exemplified by Céline; 2) the intellectual in the style of Beckett; 3) a third type that combines the best of both worlds.  In other words, "Faulkner or Bolaño" as Michon specified on both occasions  (228-229).  Mad, geeky fun not least for the sweet account of a pilgrimage to New Directions HQ in which Bolaño and Borges books are seen lined up like "vecinos neoyorquinos en la red del tiempo" ["New York neighbors in the net of time"] (141) and the entirely unexpected and non-bookish moment a page later when Vila-Matas waxes on about "la música hipnótica" ["the hypnotic music"] of CocoRosie and riffs on "el llamado espíritu lo-fi" ["the so-called lo-fi spirit"] of the Casady sisters (142).  Rockin'!

Vila-Matas & Bolaño in Blanes, 1998

domingo, 2 de julio de 2017

Spanish Lit Month 2017


Due to popular demand (i.e. one measly inquiry late last month from the seemingly genuinely enthusiastic Grant of 1streading's Blog), Spanish Lit Month will return in July and the overtime month of August this year for anybody interested in reading Spanish-language literature in the summer company of some like-minded fiends (as usual, works first published in Catalan and Galician will count as well).  To participate, all you have to do is to read one or more works in one of the original languages or in translation and then notify co-host Stu of Winstonsdad's Blog or me for us to share your reviews with fellow SLM 2017 readers across the globe.  In the hope that some of you will choose to join us despite the short notice, I'll say goodbye for now and try to return later in the week for some sort of an update once I dig some of my Spanish-language reading choices out of their storage containers necessitated by a recent move.  Any help with the unpacking appreciated.  Cheers!

Spanish Lit Month 2017 Readers
Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
Amateur Reader (Tom), Wuthering Expectations
Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza
David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
Dorian Stuber, Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau
Frances, Nonsuch Book