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Friday, January 22, 2016

The Readings of Alarcón

Daniel Alarcón
image by Jillian Tamaki
(source: NY Times)
no copyright infringement intended

currently on his nightstand: The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits (NYT: The Folded Clock comes after other four novels, and it is some kind a re-made diary, meaning it is a diary and it is not, the way De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater is a confession, or that Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is a journal, or that Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book is a pillow book), Llamada Perdida by Gabriela Wiener (goodreads: un libro de relatos autobiográficos que con magistral uso de la ironía y del humor nos permite sumergirnos en el mundo y en la mirada de una mujer y en su lucha diaria contra la cotidianidad y sus propios demonios), Nuevos Juguetes de la Guerra Fría by Juan Manuel Robles (0enliteratura: una novela que juega con la memoria de muchos de - ¿mi? ¿nuestra? - generación, y que tiene un feeling que es difícil de resistir; los que vivimos, o al menos recordamos algo de los años 80, podemos sentir por instantes algunos de los recuerdos de la obra), and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (wiki: a mystery novel for kids ranked among the greatest all-time children's stories);

the last great book he read: Los Rendidos by José Carlos Agüero (says Alarcón, a stunning hybrid of memoir and philosophy, in which Agüero wrestles with his parents’ legacy - they were both members of the Sendero Luminoso - and tells, in intimate, painful detail, what it felt like to grow up in that world, and what it took to break away from it; for Agüero himself his book is obre el don de pardonar);

contemporary authors he admires most (list always changing, always incomplete): Alejandro Zambra, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, Junot Díaz, Aleksandar Hemon, Jennifer Egan and Yuri Herrera;

his favorite fictional hero: Franz Tunda from Die Flucht ohne Ende by Joseph Roth (says Alarcón, a young war veteran, walking across Europe, hoping to return to his life as it was before the war - nothing goes as planned - along the way he's imprisoned, falls in love, falls out of love, becomes a nomad again, arrives home in Berlin to find it completely changed - he's no more anymore - in Paris he encounters his wife who assumed he was dead - she walks right by, without recognizing him; now, let me add here for nuance the opinion of Kati Tonkin: Roth's novel was published in 1927, and like the other novels by him from the epoch, was deeply nostalgic for the good old times before the war, for a world with the Habsburgic Empire and all, not as it really had been, more as he would have liked to have been; a backward-turned utopia; maybe this was also the case with Zweig);

what book from school years had the greatest impact on him: Dostoyevsky’s Записки из подполья (says Alarcón, my first serious attempt to write fiction came just a few months after finishing it — an unreadable, overwrought psychological muddle that felt, at the time, very accomplished to my late adolescent heart, my very bad imitation of a truly great book);

he reads in English and Spanish, perhaps 60% - 40% or so;

what book would he recommend to the US president: that's a good one, it depends who'll be the next (says Alarcón, there was a plan a few years ago, during the crisis of unaccompanied minors arriving on our southern border, to send a copy of The Beast, Óscar Martínez’s extraordinary account of Central American migration to the U.S., to every member of Congress - how many of them read it?);

and here is the whole story, published by NY Times:

(Daniel Alarcón)



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