Sunday, January 18, 2009

The article is up so momentum must be maintained

Ah Roberto,
All that reading, obsessing, note-taking, bad dreams, and insomnia paid off. That long, demonic, beautiful book is done and so is my long, long essay, "The Beautiful Nightmares of Roberto Bolano's 2666", that went up a couple days ago on The Rumpus. I'm very happy about this. That novel will haunt and influence me for some time to come. I'm glad I could say a little bit about it in a way that I thought was unique and not your standard review. My own challenge with this is essay was that 2666 seems to be the most written about and reviewed book of the last ten or fifteen years. So it seems at least. But yes, forward motion.

I'm going to cool off my mind now with some Cortazar short stories, maybe some Richard Brautigan, and some Ishmael Reed. As someone who is trying to write short stories, I find that I sometimes avoid reading them, preferring the long, athletic devotion that a novel demands. Which is odd. Because short stories are really the diamonds of writing. Novels are like giant icebergs of quartz. If that makes sense. I think I'm just exercising late night word choices though. Tis been a week of culture consumption and social butterfly-fishing.

Or maybe, instead of reading, I'll go to a baseball game. Camping is being planned to keep things in perspective. Like what life is like outside of cities. Trees, dirt and creeks: good purgatives.And many homemade meals involving greens, lentils, and spring vegggies: hearty, earthen, rooty things that make you feel lucid and clean.

Questions constantly arise: how to be a writer and a reader and remain healthy, vital, active and reverential of nature and physical activity and adventure? How to balance the desk and the laptop with the forests and the creeks?

Anyway, as I was saying, or trying to say. And part of the charming perils of this blog is that what is being tried will often turn quickly into something that hadn't been even considered. But yes:

I'm glad that people are obsessing over 2666, the novel and I hope too that the unbearably tragic source material for his novel is explored at length by the same people who so admire the author's fictions. Crimes committed in the name of machismo will not go away. And they are the rankest form of evil. Because machismo is usually a groundless facade, smoke and mirrors and little else and yet it does so much harm in the world. I'm not certain if I succeeded but I tried, in my own essay, to investigate the political aspects of the work while also remaining staunchly on the side of human ambiguity. Well not staunchly. Ambiguously.

I hope I can write more essays on the intersections between books and the experiences of the people reading them, both with the book and beyond it. Does that make sense? Like not just your typical book reviews or academic essays, but more open-ended, more in the "rhizomatic" sense, if I may drop a preposterously ill-defined yet exceptionally exciting po-mo word. I discovered that what I did as a literature major is exactly what I don't want to write like now. What symbolizes what, how so and so is a foil to so and so, or how the author is exploring class relations (what novelist or novel isn't exploring issues of class??), etc., etc.

Yes, its useful maybe, but I'm interested in the sensations that books provoke and evoke. And yes even political sensations because at this point it's ludicrous to say that anything, really can be somehow apolitical. There are distinctly anti-political actions you can take like, for example, not following the news, or choosing to ignore what is in the food you eat, etc. But these are still in the realm of politics.

I don't know if it is worth exploring in this entry which simply began as a little piece of personal news. And I'll leave it at that.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the article/review. Haven't read 2666 yet, but your thoughts (in the article and here) on machismo intersect with what I've been thinking and working on lately. It's a particular preoccupation of mine, that idea, the hollowness of it, and the damage it does. And I also think the underlying passions of machismo, territorialism and possession and violence, are made uniquely clear in the environment of the US/Mexico border. So 2666 sounds right up my alley.

    Your review made me want to read the book even more than I already did. Which I think is a good thing for a review to do.