Empty Words by Mario Levrero

Empty Words by Mario Levrero

Uruguayan fiction

Original title – El discurso vacío

Translator – Annie McDermott

Source – personal copy

I am back with another for my Spanish lit month and this time I am heading down to Latin America and one of the countries that I really should have read more books from over the year and that Is Uruguay and her we have a book from the late writer Mario Levrero a writer that as the translator said in the intro he is hard to put in a Genre. I liked in his Wiki page that it said he had left school due to a Heart murmur. Then he had spent his time listening to tango music and reading. He spent the latter part of his life trying to finish his novel The Luminous novel which he had spent a number of years working on he had been influenced by Franz Kafka and Lewis Carroll. This is the first book I have read by him and it was like going down a rabbit hole.

My graphological self-therapy begins today. This method (suggested a while ago by a crazy friend) stems from the notion – which is central to graphology – that there’s a profound connection between a person’s handwriting and his or her character, and from the behaviourist tenet that changes in behaviour can lead to changes on a psychological level. The idea, then, is that by changing the behaviour observed in a person’s handwriting, it may be possible to
change other things about that person.

My aims at this stage of the therapeutic endeavour are fairly modest. To begin with, I’m going to practise writing by hand. I won’t be attempting calligraphy, but I’ll at least try to manage a script that anyone could read – myself included, because these days my writing’s often so bad
that not even I can decipher it.

What he is trying to do is explained .

What happens when you get some writer’s block. Well, our narrator unnamed has been told by a friend to just write with a pen and paper every day ( this is something you see a lot these days in self-help videos and how to become creative). What we have here is his jotting the life his outpouring and over time you see how Levrero has let his narrator pour out his life and his life is one that is seeing him wanting to go up the ladder at work he writes crosswords and his mother is now showing her age. His stepson is distant so most of his time is spent Wirth his dog Pongo. But what we see is a man trying to write trying to expand from tales of his dog and the cat next door. This is one of those books that is just great but is hard to describe I’ve seen it compared to Bernhard in a way especially as he had Also written about trying to work through writer’s block.

4 October
A bad day for calligraphical exercises, and for lots of other things too. It’s raining (which I enjoy, though it makes me even more inclined than usual to sleep and do nothing). Yesterday (today) I went to bed after five in the morning; at ten thirty I was woken up by a truck with loudspeak-
ers attached, which stopped right outside our house and held forth about some stupid raffle, at great length and appalling volume. Then, without having got back to sleep properly – I’d been dozing, but that was it – at twelve thirty I was woken up once and for all by Juan Ignacio and his
grandmother, who were shouting for the dog in a deafening chorus. Because of all this, my eyes are burning and I don’t feel like doing anything. I notice, however, that except for the odd slip-up, my writing is large and clear.

A few days later and we see how he is getting on with his daily task of writing.

 

Another review said that Uruguay is known as the place of the strange ones when it comes to writers. I think that this would be one I struggle at times it is one of those books that hasn’t any real plot other than we know he is writing every day to free his writing up. this is an overweight guy with heart issues ( this is another nod to Bernhard in a way how often his characters have a sort of spite to their own world !!). It is maybe a writer trying to write about a writer trying to escape writer’s block whilst the writer himself is trying to escape the writer’s block he is suffering. His other book the luminous novel is also like this about trying to escape writer’s block. He likes to take the reader down rabbit holes of a writer struggling in his life there is a sense of the absurd nature of the world around us at times. The writers mentioned by his translator are evident Kafka there is a sense behind our narrator there are more mentions of having to live away from his home in Uruguay.An interesting book for this year’s Spanish lit month I will be getting his other book. Have you read this or any other writers from Uruguay? this is a Spanish Kafka trying to get out of writers block by imaging he is Thomas Bernhard whilst following his dog into a rabbit hole.

Winstons score – B a solid intro to a writer I liked to read more from a book that is unusual and challenging but the sort I love as a reader.

 

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Garden of silica by Ida Vitale pt1

NOTES –

Ida is from Uruguay and considered one of the leading female voices from south america ,she has won the Octavio Paz prizes for her poetry ,she lived in Uruguay til 1973 and since in exile first in Mexico then U.S.A. ,this collection on salt is the first of her works to be translated ,she started writing poetry in 1949 and still writes ,she was part of what was known as the generation of 45 that included a number of brazilian poets ,where they drew on surrealism and symbolism . this first post is about the early poems in the book .

A poem quote –

QUEEN SPYINX

standing on the serpents box ,

the queen ,lifted by the angels

or demons,goes behind the sorcery .

A trail of pins has opened for her

so she may dance on their tips……..

the opening of Queen sphinx .

My view –

The opening few poems in this collection,show Ida’s sparse use of language like a branch whittled done to make something fine and wonderfully fragile at the same time ,there is a bit of surreal /magic realism you would expect from a south american poet /writer ,there is also a feeling of the domestic world of a female talk of kitchens a list of a daily routine imagined as a poem .A recurring theme is labyrinths ,the desert labyrinth ,the island labyrinth .this collection is part of salts earthwork collection  ,the book has been loving translated by the two translators Katherine Hedeen and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez and you feel the spirit of the original work without any chunkiness ,that you sometimes find in translated poetry .

Next time i ll bring the middle section and see if mexico influences Ida’s poetry .

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