domingo, 20 de agosto de 2017

Un barrage contre le Pacifique

Un barrage contre le Pacifique (Folio, 2014)
by Marguerite Duras
France, 1950

In a vaguely Faulknerian backwater in French Indochina roiled by oppressive heat, oppressive poverty and just the faintest glimmer of incest as a possible avenue of escape for at least one of the three main characters, the unnamed la mère, her 20-year old son Joseph and her 16-year old daughter Suzanne are all desperately looking for a way out after the mother has lost her life savings on a plot of worthless floodland as the price to pay for her chance to settle in the colony...surely a high water mark of sorts both within Duras' own impressive body of work and within the annals of the postcolonial novel as a whole, the aesthetic brutality of the prose in Un barrage contre le Pacifique [The Sea Wall] is both less elliptical and maybe more punishing than usual with Duras--style taking a backseat to theme if you will...lest the lack of experimentation scare off fans accustomed to later Duras, suffice it to say that in a novel whose narrative tension derives in large part from the train wreck-like spectacle of waiting to see whether the mother or the brother will essentially auction off Suzanne's virginity to the highest bidder, the author doesn't avert her own gaze when it matters--cf. the commodification of the flesh juxtaposition between the native woman who prostitutes herself to put some dried fish on the table for her family and the exploitative tendencies of the French colony characterized as "ce bordel colossal" ["this colossal brothel"] (198) where "Le latex coulait.  Le sang aussi" ["The latex flowed.  The blood did, too"] (169).  Riveting.

Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)

Guy of His Futile Preoccupations recommended The Sea Wall to me a couple of years ago.  His review can be found here.

lunes, 14 de agosto de 2017

Spanish and Portuguese Lit Month 2017: 7/30-8/12 Links

Sorry I didn't get around to posting a link round-up last week.  Here's a bonus week's worth of links for you, now including both Spanish- and Portuguese-language literature for the rest of the month.  Cheers!

Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza
Atlantic Hotel by João Gilberto Noll

David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane

Emma, Book Around the Corner
No Word from Gurb by Eduardo Mendoza
One-Way Journey by Carlos Salem
The Sadness of the Samurai by Víctor del Árbol

Grant, 1streading's Blog
A Broken Mirror by Mercè Rodoreda
The Miracle-Worker by Carmen Boullosa

Joseph Schreiber, roughghosts
The loose ends of memories - Before by Carmen Boullosa

Melissa Beck, The Book Binder's Daughter
I'm Heroically Free: Água Viva by Clarice Lispector
Being Happy Is for What?: Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos

Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila
Winter Quarters by Osvaldo Soriano 
Inventing Love by José Ovejero
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane

Tony, Tony's Reading List
The Children by Carolina Sanín
The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade

sábado, 12 de agosto de 2017

Sendero: Historia de la guerra milenaria en el Perú

Sendero: Historia de la guerra milenaria en el Perú (Planeta, 2008)
by Gustavo Gorriti
Peru, 1990 & 2008

A probing, meticulously documented but inordinately typo-ridden account of the decade-plus of violence unleashed by the Maoist Sendero Luminoso [Shining Path] insurgent group during "los años de sangre" ["the years of blood"] (146) in '80s and '90s Peru.  While it's perhaps to be regretted that investigative journalist Gorriti never got around to finishing the planned first and third volumes of his history that were meant to bookend this one--his work, available in English as The Shining Path: A History of the Millenarian War in Peru, was interrupted by a coup and his subsequent arrest by the intelligence forces of new president Alberto Fujimori before Gorriti eventually found a safe haven abroad--Sendero's unflinching close-up on the first few years of the rebellion is probably more than enough analysis & horror for a standalone volume dedicated to explaining why some 70,000 Peruvians would wind up dead in the crossfire.  Worth reading for anyone trying to understand how bourgeois classics like Julius Caesar and Macbeth could be used as part of far left terrorist indoctrination, well worth reading for anyone trying to make some sense out of half-remembered reports of Sendero atrocities such as the one involving the dozens of dead dogs that were left hanging from lampposts in downtown Lima and maybe not worth reading at all for anybody wanting to feel better about his/her fellow man.

Gustavo Gorriti

martes, 1 de agosto de 2017

Spanish Lit Month 2017: 7/23-7/29 Links

Carlos Velázquez

Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza

David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi
No-one Loves a Policeman by Guillermo Orsi

Grant, 1streading's Blog
The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories by Carlos Velázquez

Joseph Schreiber, roughghosts
Into the Redheaded Night: From the Observatory by Julio Cortázar

Tony, Tony's Reading List
The Man of Feeling by Javier Marías

lunes, 24 de julio de 2017

Spanish Lit Month 2017: 7/16-7/22 Links

Thanks to all of you who read something for or in conjunction with Spanish Lit Month 2017 last week.  For those of you still looking to join in on the fun, please note that not only will SLM carry on into August but that Stu has proposed that next month will seamlessly morph into Spanish and Portuguese Lit Month for anyone wanting to add a Brazilian or Portuguese author to the mix.  Until then, here's the latest batch of links for your reading and blogging pleasure.

David Hebblethwaite, David's Book World
Nevada Days by Bernardo Atxaga

Grant, 1streading's Blog
Glaxo by Hernán Ronsino
Lost Books - Farewells & A Grave with No Name by Juan Carlos Onetti

Joseph Schreiber, roughghosts
"It has been wonderful to know you": My Tender Matador by Pedro Lemebel

Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda

Melissa Beck, The Book Binder's Daughter
Kissing Circe and Living to Tell It: Essays by Guillermo Cabrera Infante

Obooki, Obooki's Obloquy
Solitude by Caterina Albert i Paradís

Pat, South of Paris Books
Outlaws by Javier Cercas

Richard, Caravana de recuerdos

Stu, Winstonsdad's Blog
Wolf Moon by Julio Llamazares
The Secret of Evil by Roberto Bolaño
Ash Wednesday by Miguel-Anxo Murado
Before by Carmen Boullosa

sábado, 22 de julio de 2017

Nick Carter se divierte mientras el lector es asesinado y yo agonizo

Nick Carter se divierte mientras el lector es asesinado y yo agonizo (Debolsillo, 2012)
by Mario Levrero
Uruguay, 1975

In foodie terms, the extravagantly titled Nick Carter se divierte mientras el lector es asesinado y yo agonizo [Nick Carter Has a Good Time While the Reader Is Murdered and I Lie Dying] might best be thought of as a sort of Aira-esque--strike that, pre-Aira-esque--meringue in which the acidic quality of a couple of in poor taste abortion and incest jokes occasionally overwhelms the delicate  sugar and egg white flavor of its goofball detective and dime novel parodies.  Whatever, kind of a fucked-up meringue!  For readers of a non-Saveur persuasion, though, Levrero's 60-something page novella should offer plenty to savor: ongoing random jumps between first-, second- and third-person narration for you arty experimental types, lots of nods to Borges and Kafka and the feuilleton tradition for you highbrow and lowbrow types, and even a strong nymphomaniac secretary character for you strong nymphomaniac secretary character types.  In other words, something for almost  everyone as clearly demonstrated above without me even having to waste a single precious word on plot!

Mario Levrero (1940-2004)

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