The Illogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila-Matas


The Illogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila-Matas

Spanish Literature

Original title –  Kassel no invita a la lógica

Translated by Anne McLean & Anna Milsom

Source – Library book

Day comes up sicker than a cat
Something’s wrong, that is that

Mr. Somewhere missing somewhere, never did figure just how much
A boat from the river takes you out
‘Cross the other side of town, to get out, to get out
You take the tide, any tide, any tide
Like there isn’t gonna be any tide

Mr. Somewhere missing somewhere, never did figure just how much
Missing somewhere, never did figure just how much

I picked Mr Somewhere as it is about trying to find somewhere and it was an album I brought in Kassel in 1992 .

This is the third book by Enrique Vila-Matas to feature on the blog the two previous books Dublinesque  and Never any end to Paris were two of my favourite books whilst doing this blog .So when I saw his latest book was a book about going to the german city of Kassel to attend the Documenta . I couldn’t resist it .

That night at home I watched a television documentary about the growing power of modern china until my wife went to bed , when I started investigating Kassel ,I learned all the telescopes in the french sounding Orangerie Palace were pointing toward clocked perspective , a piece by the Albanian artist Anri Sala , located in Karlsaue , two kilometers away .

I visited the orangerie it is an impressive building .

So to Kassel , I like Enrique have been to Kassel during a Documenta , mine was the 1992 one and I was their with an old girlfriend who happened to be German and her father lived in Kassel . So like Enrique , in this book I have wondered at the piece and people who form the Documenta . The story starts when Enrique out of the blue gets a phone call to come to Kassel and be part of the 2012 Documenta , this is in the form of sitting in the window of a Chinese restaurant and writing every morning .Whilst in the city he learns about the city but also sees all the art that is going on and in a way you can feel as he writes the art rubbing off and inspiring him .Also he remembers the past and the part Kassel played in that .

I had been so many men ( I thought , parodying Borges ) , and now I was just a resident writer  they’d invited to come and do a chinese number .To cap it off , you could tell the sign had been handled by a large number of writers who’d been invited in the preceding weeks , some of whose names I remembered : Adania Shibli , Mario Bellatin , Aaron Peck , Alejandro Zambra , Marie Darrieussecq , Holly Pester

Not the only writer there a couple of these names will be on this blog over the next few months .

Well this is a splendid piece of Metafiction with Enrique at the heart of the story . A man surprised to be asked to join a modern art show as a piece of art , the sitting in the restaurant to write reminded me of  the story of Geroges Simenon being stuck in a glass bubble and writing a book in a day   .But as he drifts through the city he sees so much and absorbs so much .Rather like Walter Benjamin as he wandered the arcades of Paris he is awaken and driven by the strange world of modern art gives Enrique a new burst of life as a writer  .I remember on my visit in 1992 gazing at wonder and amazement  at the installations ,also I remember hearing about earlier piece still in the city especially those by Joesph Beuys a German artist that has always been a favourite of mine he put rings round trees throughout the city I think they are still there  .A fun book about discovering art and being a piece of art yourself , or trying to work out why they want you as a piece of art .

Do you have a favourite Novel with connections to the art world ?

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 08:46:02

    I need to try to read Vila-Matas, and get my head round the metafictional aspects as I keep starting to read him as autobiography! 🙂


  2. Caroline
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 12:21:09

    I’ve got Dublinesque but this sounds very good too.


  3. Tony
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 12:27:06

    Really want to try more of his. I actually tweeted RH Aus and was given an email address – I sent an email and never heard back 😦


  4. Jonathan
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 16:42:06

    Do you have a favourite Novel with connections to the art world ?

    My favourite novel about the art world is Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut. It may even be my favourite Vonnegut novel as well.


  5. JacquiWine
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 17:29:34

    This sounds excellent, Stu. Vila-Matas is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, but I feel I ought to put a bit of space between his books just to let them sink in a little.


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September 2015


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