(New Directions: English translation by Margaret Jull Costa)
In a departure from the usual truculent book you've never heard about/book you probably wouldn't want to read/book you've never heard about but probably wouldn't want to read anyway review format around here (the "you" in question not being regular Caravana readers, of course, but those homogeneity-loving bloggers more inclined to favor a weekly meme/review of a book I'd never want to read/weekly meme posting format on their own blogs), I thought I'd take a moment to mention the three-month long Javier Marías Your Face Tomorrow [Tu rostro mañana] group read some intrepid friends and I will be undertaking in June through August this summer. Marías' novel, the subject of a previous readalong at Conversational Reading last year which drew raves for the book (host Scott Esposito: "It's a testament to Marías' abilities as a storyteller that after 1,000 pages of this book Volume 3 has me more hooked than ever"), is probably one of the most important works in Spanish language literature of the last 10 years judging by its reception by the critics. At the same time, its reception has been such that even people who have embraced its ambition and prose have questioned its overall success as a genre-bending work of art (Stacey d'Erasmo, writing in the NY Times, called it a "magnificent, sui generis three-part novel" but a project that was "both fundamentally troubling and fundamentally troubled"). Care to put these mixed reviews to the test yourself? If so, please join us for one or more of the following dates below (to encourage the participation of fellow procrastinators, I've arranged the discussion schedule for each volume of the novel to fall on or near the last day of each month).
- Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 1: Fever and Spear (Thursday, June 30th)
- Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 2: Dance and Dream (Sunday, July 31st)
- Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell (Wednesday, August 31st)
(Debolsillo: Spanish original by Javier Marías)
Probable participants for one or all volumes
It's been an absolutely awesome week for Spanish language literature in these parts. First, Amateur Reader over at Wuthering Expectations has been running a superb week-long series on "The Spanish Issue" of The Hudson Review, which features essays by Bolaño, Borges, and Antonio Muñoz Molina among others in addition to poetry and other stuff. The Bolaño essay, "The Vagaries of the Literature of Doom" on the subject of Argentinean literature, is prob. the best critical piece I've read all year and typically Bolañoesque in its mixture of entertainment, insight and savage delivery. Secondly, I've just started Enrique Vila-Matas' El mal de Montano [Montano's Malady], which I've been looking forward to ever since I read his amusing Bartleby y compañia [Bartleby & Co.] a few years back. Finally, in addition to ordering the first volume of Javier Marías' Tu rostro mañana pictured above for the upcoming group read, I picked up several Spanish language titles that I'd been craving for a while in a Thursday night jackpot at Schoenhof's: César Aira's Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero [An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter], Roberto Bolaño's nonfiction Entre paréntesis [Between Parentheses, forthcoming in English translation in June, and the source of "The Vagaries of the Literature of Doom" excerpted by The Hudson Review] and unfinished novel Los sinsabores del verdadero policía [a January 2011 release with no translation date set yet, this features a grab bag of writing about various characters from 2666 and other Bolaño titles], and Javier Cercas' Anatomía de un instante [The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-Five Minutes in History & Imagination]. Not sure when I'll get around to all this booty, but it has already caused a shake-up in my reading plans for the rest of the month. Exciting times, for me at least!