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.
01 November 2007
Representing the human
From Boldtype's interview with Junot Díaz: