A Brief and Arbitrary Encyclopedia of Literature in Spanish (3)
Guillén, Jorge. Obra Poética . Let’s bring it home. One more from the Generation of ‘27. They may be soulful Spaniards, but they all can be very funny when they feel like it.
Lezama Lima, José. Paradiso. A poet who wrote a long autobiographical novel which he claimed was best understood as a poem. If I’m going to continue the game of finding correspondents in the English canon, then it’s Nabokov, but Lezama Lima is less suspicious of people and more laissez-faire about everything, including sex, without being all brash about it.
Marías, Javier. Tu Rostro Mañana. 1: Fiebre y lanza. It’s a spy novel, sort of, but mostly it’s just a Javier Marías novel built of Javier Marías set pieces; the best are complete winners, and I will read the other two books in the series, but I’ll probably want to tackle more Benet first.
Monterroso, Augusto. Cuentos. Guatemalan, a very distant second after Asturias in name recognition. The stories are tightly wound and cerebral with a nasty sense of humor, a bit like a less jolly Barthelme. My favorite imagines the blog-o-sphere using the technology of its time: imagine a radio which broadcasts your voice for an hour every day to a small but devoted audience of strangers, who in turn will broadcast their deep and anonymous theories and sorrows to your surprised ears, because all we want, don’t you know, is to be heard
Muñoz Molina, Antonio. Sefarad. One of the few that I didn’t finish. When I complained down in the Bolaño entry about elegant and bloodless moral earnestness, I’m afraid this is what I had in mind; the best thing about it was the Felix Nussbaum painting on the cover, and it also went for falafel money.
Onetti, Juan Carlos. Juntacadáveres. See below.
Rodoreda, Mercè. La Plaza del Diamante. See below.
Rodoreda, Mercè. Jardín Junto al Mar. See below.
Rodoreda, Mercè. Cuánta, Cuánta Guerra. See below.
Rulfo, Juan. El Llano en Llamas. Someone should write a taxonomy of naturalisms. This kind is my favorite.
Valle-Inclán, Ramón de. Luces de Bohemia. He’s weird and a lot of fun. He’s somewhere between Brecht and Wilde. He’s hugely important in the Spanish canon, but they haven’t translated much of him; it’s hard to get a handle, I think. This is a play satirizing artistic pretension in turn-of-the-century Madrid, and it does a fine job of that, but there’s a second level of willful grotesquerie... I don’t know, that’s it for Spanish books and I have to go to bed. Okay cerebrum, welcome back to California!