while i got it on my mind
Vonnegut advice from Uncle Zach:
Next time he shows up, draw an eyeball on your palm and raise your hand to ask him a question! He'll think you're a Tralfamadorian.
Chilean novelist Alberto Fuguet talks about his sense of contemporary Latin America as magical neoliberalism, or "McOndo" (spoof on Macondo). He approaches this through a discussion of Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, an American film directed by Rodrigo García, son of Gabriel Garcí Márquez, whom Fuguet takes to task for falsely exoticizing Colombia and presenting a antiquated, fabulist vision which is now obsolete. Fuguet prefers the Mexico City of Amores Perros, gritty and globalized and real. That film's director Alejandro González Iñárritu sez:
My goal was to show the world how interesting Mexico City is. We worked on 36 drafts of this movie over three years. I wanted to get it right or not make the film at all. The way America sees Mexico, if they have any sense of it, is like Taco Bell. Our countries are neighbors, and the only hard food to get in America is true Mexican. It's impossible to find, even in L.A. Why is that? In music, Americans only want Ricky Martin. You have to shake your butt if you are Latin and want to be huge in America. That's not what it is to be Latin American. You don't see people here shaking their butt. Americans see us as . . . folkloric. They don't accept that we're a powerful, diverse culture, and my goal is to enlarge the view of Mexico. To show life as it is here. Not the Taco Bell idea.
OK so yes, García Márquez writes about a Colombia that never existedbut then Faulkner wrote about a South that never existed either. (This was originally Marlowe's point, I think.) I submit that what the Latin American novel needs is an Absalom, Absalom! to illustrate how the mythic past impinges upon the definable present, how McOndo would like to forget its past but is still built upon Macondo's ruins. Fuguet appreciates Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her because García, as an outsider, is able to view America in a way that Americans never could. Is it possible for this process to reverse: could a neurotic anglo narrator, in a book written by a neurotic anglo author, show the clash between cell-phone-laden, Nike-wearing, internet-cafe-patronizing, IBM-commercial Latin America and all the weight of history? I'm taking a shot at it. Only not yet.
The novel is going into cold storage at least until Christmas, and when it comes out it'll have to be rewritten from the ground up, again. Each draft is getting better but it's a weird book and it's taking me repeated stabs just to figure out how it needs to be shaped. In the meantime I have a bucketful of stories to keep me busy. Onward.