5 May 08 | E.J. Van Lanen

Scott Esposito has an excellent essay on Bolaño, and how translations are received in the U.S., up at Hermano Credo. You should go check it out:

I love literature because I love it, but also because I derive hope from it. Each time a writer sits herself down to work, she dashes herself up against the impossible task of penetrating another’s mind, and though no one ever manages to accomplish it, it’s nonetheless inspiring that so many writers have failed so well at it. And if we step back from that solitary writer and enlarge our glance to take in all the writers of the world trying to put the workings of a mind down on paper, and then if we think about how much of this writing is shuttled back and forth across languages and borders to readers trying to commune with alien minds and alien cultures, it makes me hopeful to think that something is getting across.

Amidst all this activity, to discover something that you find personally rewarding is a wonderful feeling. It is like finding a kindred soul on the other side of the Earth. The pursuit of this feeling motivates a good deal of my trips deeper and deeper into the great vault that we sometimes refer to as literature, and I admit that when I do find an author who can give it to me, I like to come back and back to that author. And yet, when I recover from my swoon and look up to all the thousands and thousands of books still out there that might potentially hold my next kindred soul, the feeling is overwhelming.

And yes, I am finally (how embarrassing that it’s taken me this long) starting to read Bolaño. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do before 2666.


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