I really like overnight flights within the same hemisphere. So much more civilized to eat dinner, fall asleep, and wake up in another country, without suffering from jet lag at all. (Buenos Aires is one hour ahead of New York . . .)
Buenos Aires is a pretty amazing city. Reminds me a bit of Barcelona—although not nearly as gentrified. And Palermo Viejo is sort of like Brooklyn—although not nearly as crowded. The wine is very good, the beef even better, and it’s one of the only places left on earth where the dollar is still worth something. (Which is very unfortunate for portenos, but good for tourists. Especially for me, since I’m planning on buying a new suit while I’m here . . . If anyone out there knows of any shops I should visit, please e-mail me. It’s all a bit overwhelming.)
The Fundacion TyPa (which stands for “Teoria y Practica de Las Artes”) people are rather amazing. We had our first “get to know each other” meeting and dinner tonight, which was very interesting and very pleasant. This is, by far, the most international editors’ trip I’ve ever been on. I went to Poland a few years ago with a few other Americans (Lorin Stein, Jill Schoolman, Laurie Callahan) and a few Brits. I’m the only American on this trip, and translator Nick Caistor the only Brit. The other eight people hail from Germany (2 of the participants), Brazil, China, France, Israel, and Italy (2).
And, as I was warned in advance, everything is conducted in Spanish. Which is a bit of a struggle. I can understand about 70% of what’s going on, but I’m terrified to try and speak. This may well turn into the quietest week of my life . . .
Our schedule is packed—starting tomorrow morning at 9:30, we have meetings from 10am till 7pm (or later) every day of the week. And no scheduled tango dancing—all literary meetings. I can already tell that in addition to the great experience of learning about Argentine literature, this trip will result in publishing contacts that will last for years.
Since I got in at 8am, I had plenty of time to wander the city taking pictures and hanging out in the 80 degree weather, rereading Cortazar’s Hopscotch. (It’s been probably 12 years since I first read this, and there’s no better place that the Plazoleta Cortazar—which is at the end of Jorge Luis Borges street, but, to be honest, is a bit disappointing for a Plazoleta—to reread one of the greatest novels ever written.) I have lots of pictures to post, but no USB cord . . .
One of the best places I stumbled upon was the Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays, which was an extremely pleasant botanical garden, where people could hang out and read (seems like everyone here is always reading) and pet the tons of essentially domesticated cats that hang out there. The cat thing was really sort of amazing to see. They just wander around, chilling in the sun, not at all afraid of people stooping down to pet them. Very calming and natural . . .
Of course the first place I went was Ateneo Grand Splendid, which is every bit as awesome as the picture we uncovered a few months back. It is grand, almost overblown with its four floors, balconies, and restaurant on the old stage. The Argentine literature section was pretty fantastic—complete works of a number of authors who have yet to find an English audience, such as Roberto Arlt and Silvina Ocampo.
I’m really looking forward to gleaning as much as I can from tomorrow’s lectures on literary Buenos Aires, the history of Argentine literature, and contemporary Argentine lit.
Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .
Despite cries that literature is dead, dying, and self-replicating in the worst way, once in a while a book comes along to remind readers that there’s still a lot of surprise to be found on the printed page. To be. . .
“I was small. And my village was small, I came to know that in time. But when I was small it was big for me, so big that when I had to cross it from one end to the other,. . .
A few weeks after moving into a farm house in the Welsh countryside, Emilie, an expatriate from the Netherlands, starts to think about her uncle. This uncle tried to drown himself in a pond in front of the hotel where. . .
Think back to the last adventure- or action-type book you read. Wasn’t it cool? Didn’t it make you want to do things, like learn to shoot a crossbow, hack complicated information systems, travel to strange worlds, take on knife-wielding thugs,. . .
In Aira’s Shantytown, while we’re inside the characters’ heads for a good portion of the story, the voice we read on the page is really that of Aira himself, as he works out the plot of the book he’s writing.. . .
Noir is not an easy genre to define—or if it once was, that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away; as a quick guess, maybe Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 1935. When two books as different as. . .
Some time ago I read this phrase: “The page is the only place in the universe God left blank for me.”
Pedro Mairal’s short novel The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra is more about these blank spaces than the usual full. . .
“What if even in the afterlife you have to know foreign languages? Since I have already suffered so much trying to speak Danish, make sure to assign me to the Polish zone . . .”
So reads a typical aphoristic “poem”. . .
If you somehow managed to overlook the 2012 translation of Andrés Neuman’s breathtaking Traveler of the Century (and woe betide all whom continue to do so), you now have two exceptional works of fiction from the young Argentine virtuoso demanding. . .