Category: Uruguay

Enrique Vila-Matas: Montevideo

The latest addition to my website is Enrique Vila-MatasMontevideo. Our unnamed narrator has written one novel while living in Melilla, turned to drug dealing in Paris and goes back to his writing career in Barcelona before setting off on his travels, particularly to Montevideo, where he explores a hotel, which was the subject of stories by two different Argentinian writers, concerning a hidden door. This leads on to other explorations of doors and their symbolic meaning in life and literature, including one that leads from Paris to Bogotá. However, as we would expect from Vila-Matas, we meet numerous writers, both real and fictitious, with their stories, ideas and oddities and we also learn about ambiguity in both life and literature. Yes it is something of a hodgepodge but, as usual, from Vila-Matas fascinating and learned.

Juan Andrés Ferreira: Mil de fiebre [A Temperature of a Thousand Degrees]

The latest addition to my website is Juan Andrés Ferreira‘s Mil de fiebre [A Temperature of a Thousand Degrees]. This is a very long novel about two young Uruguayan men who struggle with life. Werner Gómez wants to be a writer and writes huge amounts, including a regular blog, stories, articles and novels but has struggled to get published. He eventually starts work on the Great Salto Novel (Salto is his and Ferreira’s home town). However his mental health issues, including alcohol,drugs and addiction to pornography drag him down. Luis Bruno wants to be a sport journalist and has some ideas but he too struggles and spends time in institutions, losing both jobs and his wife. Both men come from Salto but though of about the same age never meet and their paths only tangentially cross. It is a wonderfully chaotic novel but sadly seems unlikely o be translated into English.

Ramiro Sanchiz: Trashpunk

The latest addition to my website is Ramiro Sanchiz‘s Trashpunk. Trashpunk, a term coined by Sanchiz, is the developing country version of cyberpunk. This book consists of several stories but the main one concerns a writer called Federico Stahl (Sanchiz’s usual alter ego) who, through his friend Rex, a serious drug user, meets Enrique Wollfig, an old man living in a flat in Montevideo surrounded by masses of antiquated computer equipment but which houses an artificial intelligence which has a mind of its own and wants to communicate with humans but can only do so through the use of drugs. Rex tries and enjoys it but does not communicate with it so then it is Federico’s turn. The other stories touch on similar themes – the idea of an artificial intelligence, initially created by humans but which then takes on a mind of its own. There is a Southern Cone sci-fi/cyberpunk movement of which this is a part but sadly not available in English.

Mario Levrero: La novela luminosa (The Luminous Novel)

The latest addition to my website is Mario Levrero‘s La novela luminosa (The Luminous Novel). This is the story, in the form of a diary, of a novelist called Mario who is endeavouring to write a luminous novel, based on an image he saw many years ago. The novel is long – 544 pages – and during these many pages, he outlines what he does all the time which is pretty well everything, except write the luminous or indeed any novel. He finds numerous distractions – computer/Internet, friends, buying and reading books, dead pigeons, ants, the occasional ghost, health (mental and physical), unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, the State bureaucracy, and other issues. As he says This whole book is the testimony of a monumental failure. At times we find him exasperating, at others we might sympathise but I never found it boring.

Mario Benedetti: Primavera con una esquina rota (Springtime in a Broken Mirror)

The latest addition to my website is Mario Benedetti‘s Primavera con una esquina rota (Springtime in a Broken Mirror). This is only the second of Benedetti’s novels to appear in English. Another one will appear in June 2019. This one is set in the 1970s when the military have taken over power in Uruguay and there is considerable repression, with many Uruguayans going into exile. We follow the stories of five people: Santiago who is in a jail in Montevideo, his wife Graciela, his daughter Beatriz and his father Rafael, who are all in exile in Buenos Aires, and Benedetti himself, who was an exile during this period. Santiago has four more years to serve in prison but is eager to see his wife and daughter again. However, Graciela is having an affair with Rolando, Santiago’s best friend. Benedetti tells an excellent story of how involuntary exile affects these various people and how it changes them.

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