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.)
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .
Like any good potboiler worth its salt, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun wastes no time setting up its premise: “Last night, I found a gun. Or you could say I stole it, I’m not really sure. I’ve never seen something so. . .
Heiner Resseck, the protagonist in Monika Held’s thought-provoking, first novel, This Place Holds No Fear, intentionally re-lives his past every hour of every day. His memories are his treasures, more dear than the present or future. What wonderful past eclipses. . .
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads. . .
I recently listened to Three Percent Podcast #99, which had guest speaker Julia Berner-Tobin from Feminist Press. In addition to the usual amusement of finally hearing both sides of the podcast (normally I just hear parts of Chad’s side. . .
Let’s not deceive ourselves, man is nothing very special. In fact, there are so many of us that our governments don’t know what to do with us at all. Six billion humans on the planet and only six or seven. . .
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .