domingo, 12 de agosto de 2018

Spanish and Portuguese Lit Months 2018: 8/5-8/11 Links

Norah Lange

Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza
"For I myself am my own fever and pain."  Fever and Spear by Javier Marías (Spanish Lit Month 2018).

David, David's Book World
I Didn't Talk by Beatriz Bracher

Grant, 1streading's Blog
Sacred Cow by Diamela Eltit

John, The Modern Novel
Patria (Homeland) by Fernando Aramburu

Juliana Brina, the [blank] garden
Laura Liuzzi (profile and bibliography)
Just the rain and the word rain (poems by Laura Liuzzi)
Cutting and repetition (on um teste de resistores by Marília Garcia)
Adelaide Ivánova (profile and bibliography)
Felipa set the caravaels on fire (poems by Adelaide Ivánova)

Michael Kitto, Knowledge Lost
La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

Paul, By the Firelight
Cinco horas con Mario (Five Hours with Mario) by Miguel Delibes

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos
Personas en la sala by Norah Lange

Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

sábado, 11 de agosto de 2018

La boda de Hitler y María Antonieta en el infierno

La boda de Hitler y María Antonieta en el infierno [Le nozze di Hitler e Maria Antonietta nell'inferno] (Emecé, 2003)
by J.R. Wilcock & F. Fantasia [translated from the Italian by Ernesto Montequin]
Italy, 1985

A total ringer for inclusion in the Spanish and Portuguese Lit Months 2018 line-up given that the Argentina-born J.R. Wilcock (1919-1978) abandoned Spanish as his writing language after he traded in the land of Borges for the land of Pasolini in the year of our Lord 1957, La boda de Hitler y María Antonieta en el infierno [The Wedding of Hitler and Marie Antoinette in Hell] is, on the other hand, about as ridiculous and as farcical as you might expect from something with such a festive title and snazzy diabolical cover art.  Even if its own authors concede that it's perhaps "un texto que conviene regalar en vez de leer" ["a text that's better suited to give away than to read"] (119), don't heed that advice until you've savored the bad jokes about Marie Antoinette's wedding-threatening crush on Garibaldi ("Está loca por él, aunque se dejaría cortar de nuevo la cabeza antes que admitirlo" ["She's crazy about him even though she'd let her head be cut off again before admitting it"]) (11), listened in on Cagliostro's quackish confession to Seneca ("El estudio de la delincuencia y del ocultismo son los únicos pasatiempos dignos para un hombre de cierto gusto" ["The study of crime and occultism is the only worthy hobby for a man of refined taste"]) (23), overheard the horndog in hell act of piacere-seeking Gabriele D'Annunzio: "¡Ah, las diablesas...qué hembras excitantes!" ["Ah, the she-devils...what exciting females!"] (77).  In the afterword, one Du Garbandier--who I've since learned is a character borrowed from Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman--pays tribute to Wilcock's career as a paid fake critic with a doctored quote from that very same Flann O'Brien novel: "La belleza de la lectura de una página de La boda de Hitler y María Antonieta en el infierno reside en el hecho de que inevitablemente conduce al lector a la feliz convicción de que él no es, de todos los imbéciles, el más grande" ["The beauty of reading one page of The Wedding of Hitler and Marie Antoinette in Hell lies in the fact that the reader is inevitably led to the conclusion that he, of all idiots, isn't the biggest one of all"] (117).  Word.

J.R. Wilcock and friend

martes, 7 de agosto de 2018

Personas en la sala

Personas en la sala (Ediciones Barataria, 2011)
por Norah Lange
La Argentina, 1950

Personas en la sala, una especie de sueño febril supuestamente basado en el retrato de las hermanas Brontë pintado por su hermano Branwell en 1834, es una novela rara e inquietante, por no decir fascinante.  La narradora, una chica de diecisiete años en el momento de los eventos narrados, pasa casi todo su tiempo vigilando a la casa de enfrente en su calle de una zona tranquila de Belgrano, o espiando a o imaginando lo que pasa con los tres rostros borrosos visibles detrás de las ventanas de la casa vecina.  Un día, ella y las tres hermanas aisladas se conocen.  ¿Son éstas tres solteras inofensivas o "son tres criminales" o "tres aventureras" como especula la chica con la gran imaginación (31 & 50)?  ¿Realmente existen las tres o es la narradora mentalmente enferma como ese chico en El impostor de Silvina O'Campo?  ¿O, en su lugar, es el relato un homenaje simbólico al impulso creativo con la narradora jugando el papel del artista que tiene el poder de la vida y la muerte sobre los personajes del cuadro?  Aunque es difícil decir con certeza con una obra tan hermética, estoy a favor de esta última hipótesis.  No olviden que Branwell Brontë, como la narradora, tenía exactamente diecisiete años cuando pintó el retrato de sus hermanas y que es su rostro borroso y fantasmal, reemplazado por un pilar blanco, que efectivamente desapareció de su propio cuadro.  En todo caso, Lange se destaca por haber escrito un texto abierto y estilísticamente desestabilizador en el que las declaraciones de la narradora ("¡Están muertas!  ¡Están muertas!  ¡Yo las vi muertas!" [116]), las imagenes de pesadilla de un caballo muerto y algunas reflexiones morbosas sobre "escuchar venas abiertas" o suicidarse con veronal conviven con momentos de ternura (ojo: momentos ocasionales de ternura) en cuanto a las cuatro personajes que habitan este mundo enclaustrado y claustrófobo.  Un librazo.

Norah Lange (1905-1972)

domingo, 5 de agosto de 2018

Spanish and Portuguese Lit Months 2018: 7/29-8/4 Links


David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda

Grant, 1streading's Blog
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza

John, The Modern Novel

Juliana Brina, the [blank] garden
Lívia Natália (profile and bibliography)
a hunchbacked happiness imitating wings (poems by Lívia Natália)
Marília Garcia (profile and bibliography)
it's a love story and it's about an accident (poems by Marília Garcia)

lizzysiddal, Lizzy's Literary Life
Completist reading for #spanishlitmonth from Teresa Solana and Carmen Posadas (on The Sound of One Hand Killing by Teresa Solanas and The Last Resort by Carmen Posadas)

Michael Kitto, Knowledge Lost
The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

Pat, South of Paris Books
Red Dawn by Santiago Roncagliolo

Paul, By the Firelight
The Taker and Other Stories by Rubem Fonseca
La vuelta al día (Around the Day) by Hipólito G. Navarro

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos

Tony Messenger, Messenger's Booker (and more)
Adam Buenosayres by Leopoldo Marechal

miércoles, 1 de agosto de 2018

El librero que no vende libros malos

"El librero que no vende libros malos"
by Hernán Firpo
Argentina, 2017

In honor of the continuation of Spanish and Portuguese Lit Months 2018, which will run through the end of August like it or not, here's a book geek air-kiss for y'all in the form of the first of two pieces on the Buenos Aires book collecting world I hope to bring to your attention before long/before the end of the year/eventually/none of the above.  First up: Hernán Firpo's "El librero que no vende libros malos" ["The Bookseller Who Doesn't Sell Bad Books"], a newspaper article from Clarín dated July 16, 2017 profiling Federico Turrín Sabot, a "dandy que jamás negocia sus cuidadosas tres horas diarias de lectura" ["dandy who never negotiates his precious three hours a day of reading time"], and the La Lengua Absuelta "librería boutique" ["boutique bookshop"] Turrín Sabot runs in the upscale barrio of Belgrano.  Talk eventually turns to César Aira because the shop, with a commercial strategy focusing on contemporary Argentinean authors "opacados por" ["overshadowed by"] the big name likes of Borges, Bioy and Cortázar, specializes in the out of print books and first editions of people like Fogwill, Pizarnik, Aira, etc.--"y no tantos etcéteras" ["and not that many other etceteras"] as the cheeky Firpo puts it.  Among other goodies, La Lengua Absuelta supposedly has everything ever published by Aira, numbered limited edition Osvaldo Lamborghini rarities, shit like that.  Turrín Sabot, alone among Buenos Aires book dealers according to Firpo, is also the only guy in town who could score you a copy of Aira's super rare 1975 debut novel Moreira.*  Not that he seems all that interested in selling it.  "How much would it cost?" Firpo asks.  "Ufff...30 lucas.  Moreira puede salir lo que sale porque no se lo vendo a nadie" ["Ufff...30,000 Argentinean pesos.**  Moreira can go for what it does because I won't sell it to just anybody"] the bookman replies.  "Did you ever sell even one of them?" the reporter asks.  "De seis que tenía, vendí tres, pero es como esperar el novio para la novia..." ["Of six that I had, I sold three, but it's like waiting on the right husband to turn up for the bride..."].  On the other hand, "encontrará El Aleph de Borges en una Primera Edición: 10 mil pesos...  Sucede que nuestra literatura tiene libros difíles de conseguir y el valor se desprende de esa dificultad.  Austria y Hungría (de Néstor Perlongher), Invitación a la masacre (de Marcelo Fox).  Y Moreira está en esa categoría" ["you'll find a first edition of Borges' El Aleph: 10,000 Argentinean pesos...***  It's just a matter of our literature having books that are hard to get a hold of, and the price skyrockets as a result of that difficulty.  (Néstor Perlongher's] Austria and Hungría, (Marcelo Fox's) Invitación a la masacre.  And Moreira also fits into that category"].  Firpo notes that La Lengua Absuelta's web page listed 111 Aira titles at the time of his article, a fact that left the bookseller who doesn't sell bad books both proud and a little testy: "Todos tengo" ["I have them all"] he replied.  "El Aira autor, el nouvellista, el traductor, el ensayista.  ¿Sabías que Aira hizo la traducción de tres libros de Stephen King?...  Pero no quiero que te quedes con la falsa idea de que esta es la librería de Aira.  Esto es mucho más.  Mirá bien--miramos bien--: ¿no es la biblioteca que te gustaría tener en tu casa?" ["Aira as author, Aira as short story writer, Aira as translator, Aira as essayist.  Did you know that Aira did the translation for three Stephen King books?  But I don't want you to leave with the wrong impression that this is the Aira bookstore.  This is much more.  Look closely--let's both look closely: isn't this the library that you'd like to have in your house?"].

*For more on Moreira and the Buenos Aires book world it was conceived in, perhaps my favorite Aira novella to date--the 2007 La Vida Nueva--offers many fond reminiscences that you can read about here.
**About $1,100 U.S. at the current exchange rate
***About $365 U.S.

domingo, 29 de julio de 2018

Spanish and Portuguese Lit Months 2018: 7/22-7/28 Links

Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Ina Cawl, Somali Bookaholic
La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

John, The Modern Novel
El tañido de una flauta [The Tune of a Flute] by Sergio Pitol
El cielo árido (The Arid Sky) by Emiliano Monge

Juliana Brina, the [blank] garden
Adélia Prado (profile and bibliography)
the grandest thing in the world is feeling (poems by Adélia Prado)
Henriqueta Lisboa (profile and bibliography)
It is the circle where hearts meet (poems by Henriqueta Lisboa)

Mandy Wight, peakreads
The Shape of the Ruins - La forma de las ruinas by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Michael Kitto, Knowledge Lost
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Pat, South of Paris Books
The Crucial Moment by Pablo Martín Sanchez

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos
"Porque te vas" by Jeanette
Mi libro enterrado by Mauro Libertella
Los Pazos de Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán

Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
Map Drawn by a Spy by Guillermo Cabrera Infante

sábado, 28 de julio de 2018

Los Pazos de Ulloa

Los Pazos de Ulloa (Cátedra, 2017)
by Emilia Pardo Bazán
Spain, 1886

Los Pazos de Ulloa, Penguinized as The House of Ulloa and canonized in at least four previous Spanish Lit Month posts here, here, here & here, is probably a textbook example of what a jaded 21st century reader might deem a particularly fine specimen of a rather old-fashioned species of novel.  The action takes place in an environmentally and emotionally inhospitable corner of Galicia where timid, sheltered parish priest Julián discovers just what it means to minister in a godforsaken "país de lobos" ["land of wolves"] (97 & 221) upon being forced to take sides in an increasingly acrimonious marital dispute between his nominal employer, don Pedro Moscoso, and the philandering husband's saintly but abused wife Nucha--this in an era when women were still considered to be the property of their husbands.  A violent resolution to the whole matter is foreshadowed and indeed eventually comes to pass although perhaps not in the exact way anticipated by this particular jaded reader.  Suffice it to say that I look forward to rereading what Tom, Grant and Jacqui had to say about this rich, complex novel.  For my part, I enjoyed its not infrequent leavening of humor (a minor character whose melancholy demeanor, "algún tanto burlesca" ["somewhat burlesque"] sense of dignity and "entristecido" ["mournful"] raised eyebrows earn him a caricaturish comparison to Francisco de Quevedo [251-252]; a fantastic scene where the hunting dog Chonito, "clavando en el capellán una mirada casi humana, llena de desprecio" ["fastening an almost human glare, full of contempt, upon the chaplain"], runs away from Julián and his hunting companion  disappointed at discovering what a horrible shot Julián is [316-317]) as well as Pardo Bazán's character-driven potshots at both the countryside, where local politics are dismissed as "un combate naval en una charca" ["a naval battle in a pond"] (327), and the city of Santiago de Compostela itself, whose proud heritage of "monumentos y ruinas" ["monuments and ruins"] is described by one character as the mere "piedras mohosas" ["moldy stones"] of civilization and its slaves (190).  On that note, for whatever it's worth, I feel compelled to own up to the fact that I read the last 50 pages or so of Los Pazos de Ulloa in a frenzy to see how Pardo Bazán was going to wrap things up and was rewarded with both an unexpected change in narratorial POV and an ending packing as big a brass knuckles wallop as the one delivered by Balzac in Le Père Goriot.  Didn't really see that one coming, fight fans.

Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) as a young lady