01 November 2007

Representing the human

From Boldtype's interview with Junot Díaz:
Everybody always says, "I hate these footnotes, they jump me off the page." That's the point. This is a book about the terror of the single voice — of the dictatorship — and the footnotes completely undermine that authority. So unlike a lot of the postmodern white boys who use it to reinforce authority, to show their erudition, these footnotes are constantly undermining it. They jump in to give you some nonsense gossip or to say, "I got that thing in the first chapter wrong... oops!" But there's also Oscar himself. Fact is, among all these multiple voices, Oscar never really appears. We never encounter any of his direct words, and only at the very end do we get a letter from him. He's as big a ghost as his vanished ancestors, but the voice distracts you from that. It's a book about what happens when you are vaporized. Can you exist again? Can we use language to bring back what is gone? There's all these "Dr. Manhattan" jokes because in Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan is a vanished man. He pieces himself together again, but he's not human. When he reconstructs himself, an element is fucking missing. You know? And it's the same thing with Yunior and Oscar: no matter how hard he tries, something is missing. This book is not attempting to give you a real fucking human. It's attempting to give you Dr. Manhattan — this blue, ethereal ghost. In a way, that's as close as we can come as artists to representing the human. We can put the experience together, but it always comes up short.
There's also an execellent review of Samedi the Deafness.

4 comments:

Matthew Tiffany said...

Have you read "Samedi the Deafness"? I was wondering if that was something that might appeal to me...

amcorrea said...

Yes, this one's "back on the shelf." I want to reread it soon because my awareness of what it deals with shifted soon after the first few pages. (The "conspiracy" isn't quite a MacGuffin, but almost.) I think you should definitely look into it. Oddly, it reminded me a lot of Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (aside from the fact that a principle character is named after a day in the week). I need to explore this more in another post...

David (far beyond frail) said...

Just found your blog. We have a lot in common. :) Thank you for the words...

amcorrea said...

Welcome!