Background Image | Imagen al fondo

(Background Image | Imagen al fondo)

other portals

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult

Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult by Bohumil Hrabal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short and concise stories that personify factories from a Prague of the past. These same factories were the historic backbone and the bloodline to the industrial revolution that would forever knead the world into its most recent mold. Thankfully, Bohumil Hrabal generously envisages a Czechoslovakia quite unknown, or too difficult to know by the mildly curious Anglophone. This short story, much like the other translations of his work into the English, will coerce and foment a curiosity difficult to satiate. The western (English speaking reader) will find an upshot of communism foreign to the paradigmatic concept that unintentionally- in these short stories- brings philosophers, writers, doctors, criminals, women, and other common folk into a daily interaction. They work side by side in a grueling environment that requires excessive clothing and excessive exposure, creating a vulnerability to the systematic oppression and humanistic oppression already established by a more universal society.

However, the seemingly chaotic threads in these seven short stories must be taken into account. They leave the reader with a ware much like the ingots themselves– better conceived as shrines, meccas, or nebulas at the helm of an existence and essence of the eclectic group of individuals found throughout Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult. The dichotomy of destruction and creation is beautifully narrated by a Hrabal, who himself was submitted to the democratically elected communist regime that delivered him into the crucible that would ironically forge his style and tone that would consequently establish him as a Czech writer; decisively severed from his influences. It cannot be denied, however, that Bohumil was continuously tempted to stray towards the surrealistic and western influence instilled in him early on. That is especially telling in his moments of poetic narration. God bless the hammer, the sickle and the Phrygian cap. God bless Bohumil Hrabal!

View all my reviews

Review: Dark

Dark Dark by Edgardo Cozarinsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cozarinsky nos presente un complot que marca la inseguridad de lo que pasa realmente entre Victor y Andrés y sus hábitos de errar por la ciudad de Buenos Aires. Estos dos personajes, junto con el escritor-narrador, yerran como los recuerdos y pensamientos de todos involucrado- incluso el lector mismo. Tanto como la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Dark, deja huellas, mitos, y olores que impregnan palabras y nombres de lugares- como la Isla Maciel. Esta impregnación llega hasta ciertas décadas que chocan con una carga que inspira una plétora de espacios instigadores en la mente, conjeturando el ser Andrés, sus intenciones con el pibe joven, Victor, y además la afinidad que pueda tener Edgardo Cozarinsky a los acontecimientos y los lugares recorridos en la novela. ¿Por qué se toma el rol de sensei callejero, Andrés? Capaz se vea a si mismo en ese joven. Tal vez esté realizando un deseo perdido de ocupar un rol natural y paternal. ¿Puede que esté enamorado con ese joven? Durante el transcurso de bastante nuevo libro de Cozarinsky, la inversión humana se encuentra en juego y en cuestión. Puede ser visto y vivido un muchas maneras. Como dice el narrador " Muchos son los caminos de la ficción."

View all my reviews

Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: Transatlantico

Transatlantico Transatlantico by Witold Gombrowicz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had to labor through this book. Since last year I've been chomping at the bit to read Witold Gombrowicz ever since the publishing house, el cuenco de la plata, began releasing a series of his writings translated into Spanish. It seems Sergio Pitol has been commended for his translation of a difficult, and often deemed impossible, translation of this surreal biography of Witold's first days in Buenos Aires. Despite this praise, the Castilian Spanish was the first contribution to a vicissitude of excitement previous to opening up this book. The difficult language and syntax was the second contributor to a stymied initial intrigue for a glance into a renowned Polish writer who spent 10 years (maybe more?) of his life living in Argentina.

However, I was pleased to encounter a most unique approach to the idea of identity, loyalty- both to nation and to individuals connected to oneself by the sole fact of nationality-, and the apparent transformation a person experiences when choosing to live in another Nation-state different from the one they hold inherent allegiance to.

One factor to the uniqueness in this book is that the flow and tone liken to a stream of consciousness type of narrative which guides the reader at an accelerated pace. This quickness captures a desperation as the individual seems helpless to control much of anything, while the futility of settling down in his new environment unfolds into a game of tug-o-war and ambiguous submission. What is most peculiar of Trans-Atlantic is that Gambrowicz confronts the forces and circumstances that are both within him and beyond him which are innately Polish, and only exposed by his decision to stay in a foreign land.

This peculiar approach to a migrant's account of their first experiences in Buenos Aires was the last and most penetrating vicissitude that turned this read into a rigorous one, however not hindering, another example of Witold's ingenuity.

My expectation was high and in search for a fresh and unique glimpse into a city I know well as an immigrant. I hoped to find similarities in passionate narrative, both in critique and appraisal, descriptions of a fondness for the streets and the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, the admiration and annoyance of the crass Porteño manner. But to my surprise, and to the demise of my expectation, very little of Buenos Aires is registered in Witold's account in regards to landscape, arquitecture, intercultural exchange, and potent cultural nuances. Despite this, Gambrowicz cleverly uses Buenos Aires as a latent antagonist to issues otherwise held at bay in an individual comfortable at home. Buenos Aires plays the part as agitator to an individual's conception of identity and loyalty to a nation or the idea of home and the individual's pertinence to that home. I was disheartened that many different combinations of cities and nationalities could have been used as the setting for this story. But at the same time I must appreciate this universal characteristic and adaptability of Trans-Atlantic.

In the end, it is fascinating how the author was able to strip Buenos Aires of its heterogeneity and vibrancy. He leaves a blank canvass only to sloppily splatter the abstract mess that is blind allegiance to nations and fellow countrymen and giving an account of an individual desperately moving along to complete the fleeting journey of escaping, or disconnecting, from ones identity that is heavily saturated by the enigma of nationalism. The process is unique and much harder to explain in word, but I believe Witold Gambrowicz succeeds in Trans-Atlantic. However, this conclusion is hindered by my lack of Polish.

View all my reviews

Review: Biografía

Biografía Biografía by César Aira
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

César Aira no cesa ... a sorprender y experimentar innumerables maneras de (lo que parece ser un conjunto de desvíos) desplazar simultáneamente género y narración, lector y autor, con su estilo que les traslada todo a los mundos, los universos, y los microcosmos que se hacen un ente autónomo y único, en lo que ya se puede definir respectivamente como narrativa airaeana. ¡Qué manera de transcribir el cerebro al papel! ¿Puede que Aira haya encontrado el medio de liberar los pensamientos y ideas en tinta y hoja sin que fallezcan?

View all my reviews

Review: God's Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom

God's Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom God's Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom by Eberhard Arnold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Approach with caution. A manifesto that covers all aspects of the Christian life– a 3rd way in community and extreme simplicity, subversive to society and the norms the Western world perpetuates like eternal clockwork. This collection of vignettes written by Eberhard Arnold spanning the years of 1917 to 1933, come together as a coherent and complete exoneration for Christian community lived in what to many is conceived as exclusive, separatist, pretentious, and extreme. The only extremity here is Jesus' teachings clearly expressed with important Biblical reference and, apparently lived out at the Bruderhof international community that continues to thrive in 23 communities in the world today. It leaves the reader with interest in visiting or spending some time amongst one of the communities.

View all my reviews