Thursday, October 11, 2012
El mal de Montano
I bought this after guest blogging at the PEN World Voices festival in, I think, 2008. I saw Vila-Matas at two events. The first was a celebration of Anagrama, the publisher of this book. Most of the great Spanish writers are published on Anagram, which is sort of like the New Directions of the Spanish world. Vila-Matas was one of six or seven writers on the panel. I think I wrote about this event before. The on-the-spot translation was so bad that they pulled the translator from the stage and brought out a new one. People were actually standing up and shouting "No, no!" at the translator.
The next day I saw a conversation between Vila-Matas and Paul Auster, which was equally awkward, as Vila-Matas speaks no English and Auster no Spanish. The translation was better, but the triangulation of English-Spanish-Translation made it feel like you were watching a private conversation.
I liked Vila-Matas, though. He had a kind of bemused wit about him and all of his answers were delightfully playful. His book is similar. I read 233 pages of it, but I didn't quite make it to the end. My memory of the reading experience was that his cleverness finally wore me out.
from El mal de Montano
Al finales del siglo XX el joven Montano, que acababa de publicar su peligrosa novela sobre el enigmático caso de los escritores que renuncian a escribir, quedó atrapado en las redes de su propia ficción y se convirtió en un escritor que, pese a su compulsiva tendencia a la escritura, quedó totalmente bloqueado, paralizado, ágrafo trágico.