Okay, we’re at the first Bolano benchmark (someone email me with tilde instructions because the en rather than enyay is killing me) and I’m not sure yet. Engaging, amusing, smart. But the whole mocking of academia and its internal machinations has grown a bit tedious, in part because it reminds me of what I dislike about conferences, departmental in-fighting, and journal publishing.
Oh well. I’m still in this for the long haul. I think.
Quote of the day: tie. Because I’ll probably only post once a week, I’m willing to give the daily award to two bits from the first 50 pages of the novel…
“A rather ordinary picture of a student in the capital, but it worked on him like a drug, a drug that brought him to tears, a drug that (as one sentimental Dutch poet of the nineteenth century had it) opened the floodgates oof emotion, as well as the floodgates that at first blush resembled self-pity but wasn’t (what was it, then? rage? very likely), and made him turn over and over in his mind, not in words but in painful images, the period of his youthful apprenticeship, and after a perhaps pointless long night he was forced to two conclusions: first, that his life as he had lived it so far was over; second, that a brilliant career was opening up before him, and that to maintain its glow he had to persist in his determination, in sole testament to that garret. This seemed easy enough.” (5)
“The first twenty minutes were tragic in tone, with the word fate used ten times and the word friendship twenty-four times. Liz Norton’s name was spoken fifty times, nine of them in vain. The word Paris was said seven times, Madrid, eight. The word love was spoken twice, once by each man. The word horror was spoken six times and the word happiness once (by Espinoza). The word solution was said twelve times. The word solipsism seven times. The word euphemism ten times. The word category, in the singular and the plural, nine times. The word structuralism once (Pelletier). The term American literature three times. The words dinner or eating or breakfast or sandwich nineteen times. The words eyes or hands or hair fourteen times. Then the conversation proceeded more smoothly.” (40-1).
See, just when I feel bored with the professional and personal nonsense, he waxes all Cervantes funny on me. And I dig that.
I loved ( loved!! ) the second quote. I thought it was both hilarious and strangely poignant, and it managed to convey the pith of the conversation without actually recounting it.
Please tell me if you figure out how to do the tilde. It’s making me crazy, too.
I wonder if the endless academic conferences are Bolano’s version of a “desert of boredom” referenced in the opening epigram.
And one more thing that I love? That we’ve decided to do this together. Already I’m having a good time.
I so wish I could do these big reads with you! But will live vicariously through your judicious and always lovely selection of excerpts. Bon voyage.
That one got me, too. You can do the tilde by writing in Word, then posting to the blog. Word has an “insert symbol” function. Yay for alternative alphabets!
Ink, if we can do the work and give you a better sense of whether to embark later, it’s worth it. Of course, Dan and I both hold it against you that life rose up and smacked you in the face just as you wanted to start Infinite Jest and that you’ve put it back on the shelf. How dare you have crises and a life unwilling to accommodate Wallace at the right time? ;-)
Oh, Evenshine I feel like an idiot for not remembering to compose elsewhere and paste in. Duh. Thanks. When I read the drops rolling up the grass quote I thought of you!