Following up on an earlier post, I wanted to point out that there’s also a great interview with Sergio Pitol in La Jornada Semanal from July 29. There he talks about his grandmother who he calls “una senora de rancho” who used to sit him down with his brother and tell them tall tales over lunch: her travels to Italy and her life on the ranch and her fascination with Tolstoy. The plots of his first collection of short stories he attributes entirely to her. It took him a while after that to find other things to write about (so he says).
Interestingly, he decided to buy a small house in the country and set out to be a translator after his first stories came out!!! Since then he has never been at a loss for topics, and his interview then has a bit about the theatrical and cinematic elements of his characters and his passion for the plays of Oscar Wilde.
Who claims he always thought he’d write comedies for the theater? Who says his real passion has always been the dramatic arts? No one else but Sergio Pitol, the Mexican short story writer and novelist whose most recent bestsellers have included the 2005 Premio Cervantes work of fiction titled El mago de Viena [The Magician from Vienna]. Called the chronicle of a playful, delirious, and macabre world, and Mexico’s own version of the ESPERPENTO, this book combines autobiography and fiction into a perfect follow up to El arte de la fuga [The Art of the Fugue]. Pitol still awaits his day in English translation!!
(A bilingual interview with Pitol about El Mago is available online from Literal Magazine. Warning—link is to a pdf file.)
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .