24 April 2005

Sunday by the sea

If there's anything better than sitting by an open window, sipping Colombian chocolate (Sol, of course) while catching up on litblog reading, I don't know what it is. (Funny how I don't even miss certain fixtures of my old life: microwave and tv.)

Many thanks to Chris at Splinters for furthering the cause of the book quest! Your kindness will not be forgotten.

Yesterday, Barcelona celebrated St. Jordi's Day and over at 400 Windmills, I posted a few thoughts on Cervantes by three Latin American authors: Mempo Giardinelli, Hernán Lara Zavala, and Noé Jitrik.

Singer-songwriter Denison Witmer has a new album coming out in July, partially inspired by the poetry of Li-Young Lee:
"The lyrics to 'Everything But Sleep' are largely inspired by a Li Young-Lee poem titled 'Pillow,' which is found in his 'Book Of My Nights.' I have been carrying his book with me pretty much everywhere I've been going for the last few years. Thinking back, Lee's book is most likely what first put the idea of making a record about dreaming into my head."
(Via Heather at The Innocence Mission discussion list)

Michael Dirda reviews Gregory Rabassa's If This Be Treason:
While a young instructor at Columbia in the late 1940s and '50s, he started translating stories for a literary review called Odyssey. Then one day -- at the dawn of the '60s, with Rabassa by now a tenured professor -- he received a phone call from Sara Blackburn, an editor at Pantheon.Would he be interested in translating a novel by the Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar?

"It was Rayuela, which was to appear in English as Hopscotch. I had heard of Cortázar but hadn't read the book. This didn't prevent me from accepting the offer. Still without having read the book, I submitted the two sample chapters requested. Both Sara and Julio liked my version so I signed a contract to do my first translation of a long work for a commercial publisher. It was the start of a career I hadn't sought after and the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the incomparable Julio. True to my original instincts (or perhaps my inherent laziness and impatience) and to the subsequent amazement of those to whom I confessed my hubristic ploy, I translated the book as I read it for the first time. . . . This would become my usual technique with subsequent books. I used the excuse that it gave the translation the freshness that a first reading would have and which ought to make others' reading of the translation be endowed with that same feeling."

This sounds convincing until Rabassa goes on to add, with disarming candor, "I have put forth this explanation so many times that I have come to believe it, loath as I am to confess that I was just too lazy to read the book twice." If that seems a little shocking, there's more to come: "It's my notion, loose as it might be, that when I'm translating a book I'm simply reading it in English."
Rabassa's thoughts on "magic realism":

Though García Márquez's work made the term magic realism famous, Rabassa here points to Demetrio Aguilera-Malta as "the great master of the genre," especially in his "defining novel," Seven Serpents and Seven Moons. He also sings the praises of the structurally complex Avalovara by Osman Lins, of the swinging Macho Camacho's Beat of Luis Rafael Sánchez, and of the Proust-like A Meditation and Return to Región of the Spaniard Juan Benet. These are all very good books, as I can attest, since I assigned them for review in Book World, where they were duly lauded by respected novelists and critics. But do they still find the readers they merit? Among other matters, If This Be Treason reminds us of the many Latin American writers whom we sometimes overlook because of the looming prominence of García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.
(Via The Page)

Although it took me *forever* to find my way in (indicative of the other three Pevensies' issue?), the new filmsite for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is worth visiting--if for nothing else than to see Richard Taylor in action again! (Via Jeffrey Overstreet)

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