26 December 2011

More thoughts by Natasha

Here's what I linked to last time.

Here's more of Natasha's thoughts on RB. (Why didn't they just post the whole thing?)

22 December 2011

The First Infrarealist Manifesto

“It’s four light hours to the confines of the solar system; to the closest star, four light years. An excessive ocean of emptiness. But are we really sure there’s only emptiness? We only know that there are no stars shining in that space. If they exist, would they be visible? And if there are bodies that are neither luminous nor dark? Couldn’t it be that on the celestial maps, the same as on those of Earth, the star-cities are indicated and the star-villages are omitted?”
— Soviet science fiction writers scratching their faces at midnight.
— The infrasuns (Drummond would say the happy proletarian fellows).
— Peguero and Boris alone in a lumpen room having premonitions of the wonder behind the door.
— Free money.

In 1976, when Roberto Bolaño was 23, 24 years old and living in Mexico, he drafted the first* manifesto of Movimiento Infrarrealista de Poesia, a poetry movement that inspired the visceral realism (or vicerealism) movement in The Savage Detectives. Along with other poets, Bolaño and Mario Santiago banded together to form and lead the infrarrealistas; their acknowledged stand-ins in the novel were Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima.

The manifesto was titled “Déjenlo Todo, Nuevamente” and could be found in original Spanish here.

Excerpts of the manifesto in English were quoted in many reviews of Bolaño’s books. The only complete English translations that I found online were in two sites:

Abandon Everything, Again
Give It All Up Again

The activities of the infrarrealistas in their heyday were described in the following links:

Bolaño in Mexico” by Carmen Boullosa
Interview with Mario Santiago
The Great Bolaño” (pdf) by Francisco Goldman
Interviewees” (Spanish links) by Jeremy
Review of Bolaño Infra in Caravana de recuerdos

* There’s another manifesto (“Por un arte de vitalidad sin límites”) written earlier in 1975 by José Vicente Anaya.

20 December 2011

A crime from the cardinal's archives

“Experimentos Bacteriologicos” is the seventh episode of Los Archivos del Cardenal http://www.tvn.cl/programas/losarchivosdelcardenal/2011/ , a gripping television series that presents fictionalized accounts of some of the cases documented by the Catholic Church’s human rights department, the Vicariate of Solidarity. The series began broadcasting last month and drew some initial grumblings from conservatives—which only seemed to boost its already high ratings. The show’s writer, Josefina Fernandez, happens to be the daughter of one of the Vicariate’s lawyers and is a fan of the U.S. series Law and Order. There is, quite obviously,  an enormous stockpile of chilling real life events for the show’s scripts.

This most recent episode is based in part on the activities of Mariana Callejas and Michael Townley, a Chilean-American couple who worked for the regime’s secret police agency, the DINA. Callejas often held literary gatherings at their home, sometimes hosting her guests overnight during the curfew while the DINA used the premises not only as a makeshift lab but also to hold and interrogate political detainees.  The late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano also included this material in his novel By Night in Chile, calling Callejas  “Maria Canales” and Townley “Jimmy Thompson”.

>>Read more

Vásquez, Parra, Sada (links)

At READIN, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's essay on the how and why of novel reading, translated by Jeremy.

At Ricardo Blanco's Blog, translations of Nicanor Parra's poetry by Richard Gwyn.

At the Paris Review Daily, a memorial to Daniel Sada by Francisco Goldman.

05 December 2011

What happened in Philoctetes Center, December 2009?

The poetry reading was called "Madmen, Exiles, and Savage Detectives: Latin American Poetry from Arenas to Bolaño". The readers were Jaime Manrique and Laura Healy.

Healy will read from her translations of work by Mario Santiago Papasquiaro and Roberto Bolaño, cofounders of the poetic movement Infrarealism, which was immortalized in Bolaño's Savage Detectives. Like the fictional characters Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, Bolaño and Papasquiaro tried to infuse their poetry with life as much as they infused their lives with poetry. The evening will serve as an introduction to the work of Latin American poets who spent their lives in the margins, whether by choice or as a matter of circumstance.

Words Without Borders had a review of the event here.

The entire reading was posted in YouTube.

P.S. This is Bifurcaria bifurcata's 101st post!

Natasha's thoughts on The Savage Detectives

04 December 2011

Premio Cervantes

Regarded as the Spanish-language Nobel Prize for Literature, the Cervantes Prize is named after the author of the Quixote. It is considered the highest recognition of Spanish and Latin American writers whose works have contributed significantly to enriching the Spanish-language literary heritage. The list of authors awarded since its first edition in 1975 is clear evidence of the significance of the Prize for Spanish culture.

The prize winner is decided by a jury at the end of the year. It is awarded by the King of Spain to the recipient every April 23rd, the anniversary of the death of Cervantes, in the auditorium of the University of Alcalá de Henares, birthplace of the writer.

The winners are listed below. Nicanor Parra, Bolaño's favorite Chilean poet, wins the prize this year.


2011 Nicanor Parra (Chile)

2010 Ana María Matute (Spain)

2009 José Emilio Pacheco (Mexico)

2008 Juan Marsé (Spain)

2007 Juan Gelman (Argentina)

2006 Antonio Gamoneda (Spain)

2005 Sergio Pitol (Mexico)

2004 Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (Spain)

2003 Gonzalo Rojas (Chile)

2002 José Jiménez Lozano (Spain)

2001 Álvaro Mutis (Colombia)

2000 Francisco Umbral (Spain)

1999 Jorge Edwards (Chile)

1998 José Hierro (Spain)

1997 Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Cuba)

1996 José García Nieto (Spain)

1995 Camilo José Cela (Spain)

1994 Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)

1993 Miguel Delibes (Spain)

1992 Dulce María Loynaz (Cuba)

1991 Francisco Ayala (Spain)

1990 Adolfo Bioy Casares (Argentina)

1989 Augusto Roa Bastos (Paraguay)

1988 María Zambrano (Spain)

1987 Carlos Fuentes (Mexico)

1986 Antonio Buero Vallejo (Spain)

1985 Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (Spain)

1984 Ernesto Sábato (Argentina)

1983 Rafael Alberti (Spain)

1982 Luis Rosales (Spain)

1981 Octavio Paz (Mexico)

1980 Juan Carlos Onetti (Uruguay)

1979 Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)
1979 Gerardo Diego (Spain)

1978 Dámaso Alonso (Spain)

1977 Alejo Carpentier (Cuba)

1976 Jorge Guillén (Spain)

Sources: Ministerio de Cultura; Wikipedia

Whose disquiet is the most disquieting?

Searching online for a copy of The Book Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, I found there were several translations to choose from (by Margaret Jull Costa, Richard Zenith, Alfred Mac Adam, and Iain Watson). All four versions first appeared in 1991. My impression was that the Zenith (from Penguin) is the most "complete". The Jull Costa, which was reissued by Serpent's Tail, was a selection of the fragments. There are sites which compared excerpts from these translations side by side, but I'm not sure a well-worded choice excerpt will give a definitive edge to one version. One way to go around this is to buy more than one version, but that would be impractical.

I'm anticipating a group reading of this book, hosted by Tom (Wuthering Expectations), some time in the first quarter 2012. Borrowing from the library is not an option. I haven't seen a decent library since college. Used bookshops are also out of the question. I live in the province and the number of passable bookshops is ... nil. So I have to buy the books (online or in stores in Manila), or swap them, which is also like buying since I pay for the shipping.

Another factor that would influence my choice is the pricing. When comparing book prices, the two default sites I visit are:

The Book Depository - Based in UK, this seller is sent by heaven because the cost of shipping to many countries is FREE! Never mind that they sold their souls the company to Amazon. Never mind too that the publication date of US-published titles are delayed by a month or so, and that shipping to an island in the Philippines takes about a month. The prices often compare favorably against those of bookstores.

BookFinder.com - another heaven sent site. It's particularly useful when finding out of print titles.

I'm inclined toward getting the Zenith version. It could prove to be the most disquieting.

The most disquieting discovery I made however is this. Copies going for almost a thousand dollars.

(Date accessed 4 December 2011, 4:23 pm)

The 2012 Mediterranean Reading Challenge

The Black Sheep Dances just announced The 2012 Mediterranean Reading Challenge.

The qualified countries to read from are: Algeria, Albania, Tunisia, Spain, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Bosnia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Monaco, Slovenia, Crete, Cyprus, and Malta.

There are three levels of participation (Tourist-Explorer-Scholar, corresponding to 3-6-9 books).

You can sign up at this link.

03 December 2011

Castellanos Moya's five reasons to write

LP: Do you think literature can help deal with trauma?

HCM: Most of the indigenous victims and survivors of massacres are poor and illiterate. Literature is a privilege they don’t have access to. There is no way literature can help them to deal with their traumas. What they need is psychological and economic support, and mainly justice.


LP: What compels you to write?

HCM: I started to write in a country where writing didn’t give you any status or money. By that time, in that place, to be a writer was synonymous with being subversive. I guess since the beginning, I have felt the urge to write because of a necessity of expression, because of the perception that I don’t fit in any place, because I know that I’m survivor, because I want to get rid of what infects me, and for a sense of revenge.

– An interview with Horacio Castellanos Moya at Latineos,
via Now That it's Now, the New Directions blog.

Advice of Marguerite Duras to Enrique Vila-Matas

[Never Any End to Paris] describes Vila-Matas’ apprenticeship as a writer in Paris, the city to which he moved (from his native Barcelona) as a young man in the 1970s. He had the good fortune to rent a room in the apartment building belonging to the fabulous novelist and film-director (and alcoholic of epic and tragic proportions) Marguerite Duras. Early in the story Enrique bumps into Duras one day on the building’s stairway. Nervous and stammering, he asks her in his substandard and broken French for some advice on the novel he is writing (his first):

“Some advice, that I need, help for the novel.” Marguerite understood perfectly this time. “Ah, some advice”, she said, and she invited me to sit down in the foyer (as if considering me to be very tired), slowly put out her cigarette in the entrance hall ashtray, and headed, somewhat mysteriously, towards her office, from which she returned after a minute with a sheet of paper that resembled a medical note and which contained instructions that might – she told me, or I understood her to say – be useful to me in the writing of novels.

Richard Gwyn, author of The Vagabond's Breakfast, writes about Duras's advice to the young, aspiring writer Vila-Matas (read more)

01 December 2011

The Savage Detectives, the un-movie

Gael in talks for “The Savage Detectives”

The Mexican actor Gael García Bernal could be the protagonist of the film “The Savage Detectives” (Los Detectives Salvajes in Spanish), based on the book of the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, announced today the newspaper “La Nacion”.

The director, Carlos Sama, said in an interview with the Chilean newspaper that he’s “in talks” with Gael Garcia Bernal to play the protagonist of the film that could premiere in late 2009.

“The Savage Detectives”, published in Chile in 1998, relates the search for Mexican poet Cesárea Tinajero by two young poets: The Chilean Arturo Belano, who would be interpreted by Garcia Bernal, as well as the Mexican Ulises Lima.

Sama, aged of 41, who wrote the screenplay for the movie with Luis Felipe Fabre and Arcadi Palerm-Artís, said the shooting will start this year in northern Mexico in the Sonoran Desert, “which is a very special place”.


That was in 2008.

But it turned out to be more a film pitch than a done deal. Horacio Castellanos Moya couldn't help making a reference to this film in his essay on the "Bolaño myth": "the old mythology of the road trip, which came from Kerouac, has now been recycled with the face of Gael García Bernal (who will also portray Bolaño in an upcoming film, by the way)." Castellanos Moya traced the road trip myth from García Bernal portraying Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries.

Carolina López, Bolaño's widow, said that no contract for a film adaptation of the novel was actually made.

The movie that could somehow approximate the novel's eroticism and 'artlessness' was probably Y tu mamá también (And Your Mother Too), directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The movie, which also starred García Bernal, is about two teenage friends and an older woman who went on a road trip in search of a lost beach.