Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reading between reading



Whilst contemplating what to turn to to read next, a novel that caught my attention has been Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans by Luis Fernando Verissimo, the novel is published in an English translation by Margaret Jull Costa and published by Harvill/Vintage and also by New Directions. Narrated, (perhaps somewhat unreliably?), by Vogelstein, he travels to Buenos Aires to attend a literary conference on Edgar Allen Poe, another attraction being is that the conference will also be attended by Jorge Luis Borges, whom Vogelstein once translated and took the liberty of altering the end of the translated story, an action which in turn he deeply regrets doing. After the first night of the conference a German attendee and scholar, Joachim Rotkopf, is murdered, before he dies he phones Vogelstein with a garbled message, the body is found lying against a mirror which Vogelstein, (first to discover the body), thinks that the body and it's reflection resembles the letter X, which could be a cryptic attempt at identifying the name of his murderer, Rotkopf's room was also locked from the inside, adding to the mystery. Suspicion falls on the other  attendants of the conference, whose lectures Rotkopf was about to reveal as being deeply flawed, Xavier Urquiza, Oliver Johnson and also a Japanese  professor are all in turn and for each of their own reasons suspected.  Borges and Vogelstein attempt to reveal the murderer through cross referencing Poe's texts, spiraling into a world of cryptic circumspection, although an amusing satire of symbolic text novels Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans manages to stay true to the genre with an unexpected and rather ingenious twist at the end, I leave it for you to discover how the Orang-Utans figure. An opportune moment to compile a list of titles read from non-Japanese authors that I've read so far this year -

Julien Gracq - The Opposing Shore
Virginia Woolf - Jacob's Room
Samuel Beckett - The Lost Ones
Cees Nooteboom - The Following Story
Anne Carson - The Beauty of the Husband
Leo Perutz - The Master of the Day of Judgment
Tarjei Vesaas - The Seed
Lee Sung U - The Reverse Side of Life
Arto Paasilinna - The Year of the Hare
Gesuldo Bufalino - The Plague Spreader's Tale
Grant Morrison - The Filth
Hans Keilson - The Death of the Adversary
Laurent Binet - HHhH
Joanna Sinisalo - Not Before Sundown
Alberto Barrera Tyszka - The Sickness
Albert Sanchez - Cold Skin
Antonio Tabucchi - Requiem
Jose Saramago - Cain
Colm Toibin - The Testament of Mary
Stefan Zweig - The Invisible Collection/Buchmendel
Andre Gide - The Immoralist
Luis Fernando Verissimo - Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans

and to contemplate titles that I'm hoping to read before the end of the year -

Miguel Angel Asturias - The Mulatta and Mister Fly
William T. Vollman - You Bright and Risen Angels
Alejo Carpentier - Explosion in the Cathedral
Patrick Chamoiseau - Texaco
William Burroughs - Cities of the Red Night
Gunter Grass - Local Anaesthetic
Gert Ledig - Payback
Edouard Leve - Autoportrait
Alison Moore - The Lighthouse
Ivan Potrč - The Land and the Flesh
Mary Butts - Armed With Madness
Sergio Chejfec - The Planets
Gabriel Josipovici - Everything Passes


5 comments:

Tony said...

I've only read 'The Year of the Hare' from your list, but I'm planning to get to Keilson at some point too :)

Parrish Lantern said...

A great list of which a few I've read or own such as the Luis Fernando Verissimo one.

me. said...

I'd like to read more by Hans Keilson, I've seen some criticism of Comedy in a Minor Key of how the prose shifts about and this happens a little bit in The Death of the Adversary, but there are some sublime passages in it too, when the narrator is recalling his father's rucksack, if you're reading it in the original I'm a little green.

Looks like there's a new translation of Luis Fernando Verissimo called The Spies which sounds intriguing. I forgot to mention that I've been dipping into View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska which has been a gem, which I'll finish soon.

Thanks for the comments!.

Parrish Lantern said...

Have her Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts (seventy poems by), which I often dip in & out, she's a wonderful poet.

me. said...

Thanks for the recommendation, will maybe have to look at that next.