Like blog buddies Rise of in lieu of a field guide (who kindly made me aware of this challenge in the first place) and Stu of Winstonsdad's Blog, I've decided to sign up for Ficciones, a 2011 Argentina Reading Challenge hosted by Jen of Jen and the Pen. Even though I still think most reading challenges (and most reading challenge participants!) are rather dopey, I'm going to try to be less hypocritically strident about that opinion in the future because this is just one of several challenges I've found this year that I'm actually quite fond of and still owe reviews to: Amateur Reader and Nicole's Anything Ubu Readalong Opportunity (click here and there for their final posts), Carl V.'s R.I.P. VI, Rise's 2011 Roberto Bolaño Reading Challenge, etc. For me, though, Ficciones is a particularly interesting addition to the mix because it's dedicated to one of my top three countries in the world for foreign literature (France and Spain, eat your hearts out) and my my fave country anywhere for choripan, empanadas, and many other culinary goodies of that nature (unfortunately not a part of the challenge festivities). So what will be my food for thought for this challenge? Too many options for this glutton to choose from! Since the challenge runs from February 15th, 2011 to February 14, 2012, I'll begin by backdating my participation to include Juan José Saer's Glosa and Julio Cortázar's Rayuela--two of my favorite reads from earlier in the year. I might also turn to some of the titles mentioned in this post here and various titles on my sidebar for other possibilities. But among all the great, non-mainstream choices, some of the main candidates at present include César Aira's Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero [An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter], Macedonio Fernández's wacky Museo de la novela de la Eterna [The Museum of Eterna's Novel], Beatriz Sarlo's Escritos sobre literatura argentina (literary criticism on Caravana favorites Arlt, Borges, Ricardo Piglia, and Saer), and, what the hell, the nonfiction War and Peace of recent Argentine letters: Adolfo Bioy Casares' 1600-plus page Borges diary (the undertaking of which will equal my version of an old school no supplementary oxygen ascent of Everest). Plus, a whole mess of short stories even though short stories aren't really part of the challenge format aside from short story collections read as a whole. If you'd like more info on signing up for Ficciones, click here, and if you'd just like a surefire way to get pumped up about the nature of the literature in question, check out Amateur Reader's "Bolaño, Aira, and the Argentinean Literature of Doom" here (you could also just read Aira's bitchin' "Cecil Taylor," as I finally did last night, if you want to know what all the fuss is about). By the way, I'm aiming for porteño status (6 reads, at least one of which must be in Spanish); however, there are saner options available for the rest of you lot. Chau chau.
Works Read for Ficciones
1. Juan José Saer's Glosa [title unwisely translated as The Sixty-Five Years of Washington]
2. Julio Cortázar's Rayuela [Hopscotch]
I think I'll join up with this, too. I have been wavering between more Literary Doom and going back to one of the cornerstones. I think Martín Fierro has won that argument. And then I add in the two Aira books I read earlier in the year and I'm up to three, all extra-short.ResponderBorrar
From your list, the book I most want to know about is Borges - holy cow! Jimminy Christmas! Etc.!
By my green candle! The invasion of Argentina's library just became a full scale war, Richard. I also lined up a book by Aira, but might listen to Borges lectures on poetry for maximum impact.ResponderBorrar
THAT Borges diary is a must-translate tome.
*Tom: I've flipped through Martín Fierro before but never read much of it. Will be interested in hearing what you make of it. Was looking at the Bioy Casares book at work the other night and think that it will hold much of interest. Every other entry seems to begin, "Borges had dinner at our house..." before launching into one literary anecdote or another. Should be an eye-opener!ResponderBorrar
*Rise: Ha ha, "by my green candle" indeed! I figure this challenge should be a good pretext for me to return to my Lat Am reading roots, but I'm excited to be reading in such fine company regardless. Look forward to seeing what you end up choosing, and I'll try to provide some Bioy Casares Borges extracts in the near future (the diary format should make it perfect for blog post plundering). By the way, I think I remember reading that the diary is either already available in English or is in the process of being translated--will have to look into that!
The Englishing ofMy Dinner(s) with Jorge appears to be underway, in the capable hands of Esther Allen, tr. of Dark Back of Time.ResponderBorrar
*Tom: Belated thanks for that translation tidbit--it's nice to be surrounded by intrepid researchers who are much more on the ball than I am!ResponderBorrar