31 May 2011

What Ishiguro read in 2009

My reading this year was dominated by Roberto Bolaño's two massive novels, The Savage Detectives and 2666 (both Picador). The first is the superior, but 2666, for all its occasional longueurs, is still quite magnificent. Bolaño links seamlessly South American, US and European traditions; modernism with gritty realism and the crime thriller. These are both important works and the advent of Bolaño is a significant moment in the history of modern fiction.
Kazuo Ishiguro, Books of the year 2009, The Observer

25 May 2011

24 May 2011

A reader's guide to 2666

I've finished my reread of 2666. I picked it up along with the Salonistas in LibraryThing. The discussion thread (here, with spoilers) contains background information on Bolaño and the book.

Perhaps the first online group read of the novel was the "National Reading '2666' Month", a month-long reading by The New Yorker (The Book Bench) in January 2009. Started in the same month, but running until May, was a reading by bolano-l Google group. The reading was organized by Matt Bucher. After that, there were several more online group discussions, mostly from blogs and reading sites.

Other reading includes the one I posted earlier (over at Leeswamme's Blog).

Below are sets of blog links to two sites whose commentaries I've found useful in understanding the five-part novel. They provide a close reading of the text and appreciation of the nuances of the book's style.

Update: New readalong at The Weblog.

from Caravana de recuerdos (in Spanish and English)

Richard's blogging was part of a group reading back in May 2009.

1. The Part About the Critics
2. The Part About Amalfitano
3. The Part About Fate
4.1 The Part About the Crimes
4.2 The Part About the Crimes
4.3 The Part About the Crimes
4.4 The Part About the Crimes
4.5 The Part About the Crimes
5. The Part About Archimboldi

from Las obras de Roberto Bolaño

Last year Matt Bucher, Maria Bustillos, and others read the 5 parts over a 15-week period, roughly 50-70 pages a week. There were several posts per week, broken into several themes (such as dreams, characters, vocabulary, deaths, and locations).

The Part About the Critics
Week 1: pages 1-51 [post 1, post 2, post 3, characters, dreams, timeline, locations, vocabulary]
Week 2: pages 51-102 [post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5, dreams, characters, locations, vocabulary]
Week 3: pages 102-159 [post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, dreams, deaths, locations, characters, vocabulary]

The Part About Amalfitano

The Part About Fate

The Part About the Crimes
Week 7: pages 353-404 [post 1, post 2, post 3, deaths, dreams, locations, vocabulary]
Week 8: pages 404-465 [post 1, post 2, post 3, deaths, dreams, locations]
Week 9: pages 466-513 [post 1, deaths, dreams, links, deaths, locations]
Week 10: pages 513-564 [post 1, post 2, locations, dreams, vocabulary]
Week 11: pages 565-633 [post 1, post 2, deaths, dreams]

The Part About Archimboldi
Week 12: pages 637-701 [post 1, post 2, deaths, dreams]
Week 13: pages 702-765 [post 1, post 2, dreams, deaths]
Week 14: pages 766-830 [deaths, dreams]
Week 15: pages 831-893 [post 1, post 2, deaths, dreams]

19 May 2011

Ugarte (Issue #1)

Ugarte is the new online literary journal to follow. The maiden issue is packed with interesting writing. There's an essay on Roberto Bolaño in El Salvador and interviews with Salvadoran novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya and New Directions President Barbara Epler

The editors traced the journal's inception to a Bolaño story, "Sensini".

The five founding editors of Ugarte met in the fall of 2010 at Eugene Lang College in a class on the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, taught by Indian novelist and literary critic, Siddhartha Deb. Ugarte takes its name from “Sensini,” a short story written by Bolaño in which a young writer corresponds with an elder, cultish author by the name of Louis Antonio Sensini.


Throughout the class Roberto Bolaño, in his capacity as an enfant terrible of modern literature, gradually began to represent, for many of us, the exact qualities our increasingly complacent literary culture otherwise seems intent on abandoning: progressivism, internationalism, combativeness.

In lieu of undergraduate fiction and poetry we have emphasized the critical essay, aimed to bring attention to writers in all corners of the world whose work we feel is of exceptional merit, as well as to cast a skeptical glance at those groups and individuals who simply get away with too much. (The New Yorker 20 under 40, say.) We intend furthermore to bring you insightful and thought-provoking interviews with some of the most exciting writers on the planet, in an effort to help stimulate the global literary conversation.


17 May 2011

"Beach" in Granta

"Beach", a Bolaño short story, is in the magazine Granta 114: Aliens. The story also appears in the collection Between Parentheses, edited by Ignacio Echevarría and translated by Natasha Wimmer. Subscription is required to access the story online, but an earlier translation appeared in Eyeshot (here) while the original Spanish is here.

A controversy surrounded the classification of the piece as fiction or nonfiction. "Playa" ("Beach") was initially classified as a nonfiction. It first appeared as one of the essays in Entre paréntesis. The story mentioned drug addiction which led some reviewers and critics to assume that Bolaño was once a drug user. Some write-ups appeared mentioning his alleged drug use. This addiction and the decadent life associated with it, as well as his eventual death from a liver disease, were said to have contributed to the "Bolaño myth." However, Bolaño's drug use was denied by his wife and close friends so this essay was now considered to be a work of fiction.

See also:

"A Chilean Writer’s Fictions Might Include His Own Colorful Past" by Larry Rohter, The New York Times

'Bolaño’s “The Beach” translated at Eyeshot in December' by Maud Newton

"The new Granta stokes the Roberto Bolano mystique" by Ian McGillis, Montreal Gazette


16 May 2011

Group read – Fever, Spear, Dance, Dream, Poison, Shadow and Farewell

 Foto. EFE

I don't believe in the separation of Latin American and Spanish writers. We all inhabit the same language. At least I think I cross those frontiers. And in my generation there is a mixed nucleus of writers, Spaniards and Latin Americans, the same way they were mixed in another era of Modernism, possibly the most revolutionary movement in Spanish literature of this century. Because of his strength, I think someone like Javier Marías is forced to influence Latin American literature, and he does. He is a great writer.
                                                        - Roberto Bolaño

Richard at Caravana de recuerdos just announced a group read of Your Face Tomorrow, the 1,200-page (in Margaret Jull Costa's English translation) tome by Javier Marías.

Here's the schedule:

  • 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)

I'll be reading the final volume as I've finished the first two last year with Your Face This Spring at Conversational Reading.


(Javier Marías)

15 May 2011

The Hudson Review – The Spanish Issue

The Spring 2011 issue of The Hudson Review (The Spanish Issue) contains exciting pieces by Latin American writers. They include, among others:

- "The Vagaries of the Literature of Doom" by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer [the first of "three insufferable speeches" in Between Parentheses collection, out next month, the Amazon page has a partial preview, click cover for an inside look] 

- "A Double Education" by Antonio Muñoz Molina

- "A Course in English Literature at the University of Buenos Aires: The Seventh Class" by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Esther Allen

- Extracts from the long poem "The Solitudes" by Luis de Góngora, translated by Edith Grossman

[via Wuthering Expectations, which is running a cool series of posts on this journal issue; image from Queen Sofía Spanish Institute (New York), celebrating the issue through "an evening of readings and discussion" on May 18]