There is no good place to begin speaking of a book cram-packed with proverbs, death, and trickery, because the end wraps around to the beginning like a snake eating its own tail, crushing you in its coils. Marlon James would tell you this himself; what you believe to be true is an illusion, and the illusion you see, well, it is a tale out for your blood.
There’s no better novel to read in the middle of winter than one in which gloom transforms itself into an emotional Spring. Guadalupe Nettel’s After the Winter cuts through the fog by splitting her narrative into intimate, alternating perspectives which cross paths as the novel progresses.
Latin American literature is having its day in Dallas, Texas. This weekend on September 8th The Wild Detectives is bringing a portion of the infamous Hay Festival to Oak Cliff by hosting several panels of authors chosen from the festival’s literature anthology, Bogotá 39.
Everyone knows writers are depressed. As a species we are invariably portrayed as near suicidal heavy drinkers and odd, chronic overthinkers who tug at our hair, howl at the moon, and cover ourselves in proverbial ashes. The world of literary respect seems to honor this heritage by giving critical consideration and praise only to authors who possess a flair for the tragic, and who keep humanity’s dying ember held on their tongues. Happy writing is relegated to the likes of the commercially packaged, pastel drenched Nicholas Sparks or, at best, the demure Jane Austen who insists on a neat and satisfying ending. We all want our light romances to end well, but the preponderance of respected literature is dealt a much heavier hand; serious literature must be serious.
The world is hungry for magic. There is an enchantment in every recorded culture with the baffling and the unexplainable, an enduring search for whatever underlying hoodoo jives with and rearranges predictable existences. Well recorded responses to mysticism and the uncertain have ranged from stonings to developing cults to writing bestselling novels, but moderate responses to what we do not understand appear to be limited, or to not exist at all. In the realm of literature, what is confusing and, often, strange is bread and butter—the needed fodder for ideological exchange, for the development of assumption shattering introspection.
Reading the recommendations of established authors lets you look into the mind of an artist in a unique way; you don’t just see how they love to create, but the creations of others that they admire.
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