My documents by Alejandro Zambra

My Documents by ALejandro Zambra

Chilean fiction

Original title – Mis documentos

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source – review copy

The flash of a distant camera
reconnecting
thoughts and actions,
Fragments of our missing dreams,
Pieces from here and there
fall in place along the line,
Disappearing between you and me.

Life is changing everywhere I go,
New things and old both disappear.
If life is a photograph,
Fading in the mirror….

A Neil young lyric Distant camera from silver and gold album i felt the line fragments of our missing dreams suited this collection do well .

I have read Alejandro Zambra before his two Novella’s Bonsai and ways of going home  the ,later I did review here . I remember at the time I read it thinking , he would be a great short story writer so when this collection from Fitzcarraldo editions arrived I was excited to see if my feelings about him were right .Alejandro Zambra currently teaches at Santiago Diego Portales university he has won a number of awards including the best Chilean Novel award and was part of the 2010 Granta best Spanish writer collection (time flies that was a great collection ).

He was twenty-three years old, it was the first computer he’d owned and he didn’t know exactly what he wanted it for, considering he barely knew how to turn it on and open the word processor. But it was necessary to have a computer, everyone said so, even his mother . Who’d promised to help him with payments .

I was a bit old when I got my first lapton but had same feeling as what is this for in my life as our narrator did .

My documents could easily be called a novel in the way it is a collection of memories strung together , but the narrator isn’t defined as the same one, so it’s not a novel but a wonderful collection of gems memories drawn like the miniatures of old .Rather like in the 18th century people used carry a miniature of their loved ones eye just the eye and like that this collection it is a detached collection of stories of lives and memories . A remembrance of a first computer , from putting a poem on it , then listening to music , editing pictures and music finally to a dark side of the owning of a pc .Then we follow a smoker as he writers a diary of his giving up smoking (The irony is I just read Nicotine another non fiction work from FItzcarraldo also about stopping smoking ) .Then Condor Rojas is mentioned in one of the stories and rather like the stories themselves an echo of one of my own memories was remembered as like the writer himself , I remember the story of Roberto Rojas when this Chilean keeper pretend to be injured from a firework a match was abandoned and then he was found to have injured himself .

He’d been there with us, in front of the tv . When Condor Rojas faked his injury in Brazil and the Chilean team walked of the field at the Maracana. My father and I couldn’t believe what we were seeing and Camilo was distraught too. “Fucking Brazilians!” I shouted to see if anyone would scold me,but no one did. My father sank into a furious silence. Camilo immediately set off downtown, and he was part of the crowd that protested in front of the Brazilian embassy. I wanted to go with him, but my parents wouldn’t let me , and I had to swallow my rage.

The moment Rojas did the injury that turned out to be fake .

Again i was touched by Zambra I said although he grew up a million miles away from me and in a different world . I connected with him in ways of going home and again here , I remember my first interactions with a pc .But more than that the memory of what happened in that world cup qualifying game in 1989 that saw chile miss the 1990 world cup all but forgotten now outside Chile was by me at least remembered for a number of days after the reading of the story .Rather like Robin Williams in the film the final cut Zambra is a master of slicing together parts of life memories , loves and behind it all the dark past of Chile .This is a wonderful debut short story collection from one of the leading lights of Latin American fiction at the moment.

Have you read Zambra ?

 

Advertisements

Ways of going home by Alejandro Zambra

ways of going home by Alenjandro Zambra

Ways of going home by Alejandro Zambra

Chilean fiction

Original title Formas de volver a casa,

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source Review copy

I have read him before Kim from reading matters sent me The private lives of trees a couple of years ago ,I read it but never review it so with Spanish lit month  in July I decided to review this now and The private lives of trees .Alejandro Zambra is a Chilean born writer he studied in Chile  a degree in Hispanic languages  ,and currently teaches in Santiago and contributes to magazines and papers in Chile his first novel was describe stunningly as “The publication of Bonsai … marked a kind of bloodletting in Chilean literature. It was said (or argued) that it represented the end of an era, or the beginning of another, in the nation’s letters” in El Mercurio .

THE NIGHT OF THE EARTHQUAKE I WAS SCARED

But I also, in a way enjoyed what was happening .

In the front yard one of the house ,the adults put up two tents for the children to sleep in ,and at first it was chaos because we all want to sleep in the one that looked like an igloo

As I said halves scared /but enjoyed

SO we get to ways of going home it is one of those short novellas that seem much longer and deeper after you have put it down if you know what I mean .It’s a book of memory and halves .The book is in two section we meet a young boy in the dark days of Pinochet’ s regime ,but our narrator has a fairly normal life as it appears to him in fact if anything slightly boring ,but then there is an earthquake and almost like the Shibbolth artwork (the crack in the floor of the turbine hall of Tate modern Doris Salcedo a fellow Latin american ),out of this crack  of the earthquake appears Claudia a slightly older girl than him, we  sense our narrators immediate attraction and liking of this girl as he spies on her from afar but getting closer  ,they get to know one another and she gets him to look at her uncle to she what he is up to.No as quickly as she appears, no sooner  has her and her family disappeared from his life but he never forgets her  ,til they meet in adult life  ,he is full of remorse for the violence of the Pinochet years and how him and his family didn’t do a lot ,Claudia family did that is why she went ,find out how these two getting together changes our narrators life for ever .Also what really happened during those years though unspoken at times is always lurking in the background .

When I was a child I liked the word Blackout .My mother would come and get us and bring us into the living room.”In the past,people didn’t have electricity “, she would say as she lit the candles .It was hard to imagine a world without lamps , without outlets in the wall .

As an adult remembering the past .

I said this is a book of memories our narrator rather like my self ,ok I didn’t have a violent dictatorship ,but had a bad divorce of my parents a step father I didn’t get on with and a being clumsy skin and tall was a target for bullying .But now as I look back on my younger years these events thou there are second place to family holidays ,evening spent with friends ,day trips in fact all the best bits .I feel this is our narrators problem his is the reverse as a child to him it all seemed wonderful he almost blanked out the bad parts ,til they reappeared in adulthood .I also said halves well-being young /being old ,being safe /having to run ,being quiet like the narrators parents / speaking out like Claudia’s  parents ,moving on /not forgetting.Also the shadow of the dark days of being Chilean in the 80’s looms large in the background   .Zambra is a writer of true  style in fact that sparse writing style that yet seems fuller ,like Carver did in his short stories the novella has been worked to a delicate lace of words that thou fragile and thin is truly beautiful .

Have you read Zambra ?

Do you have a favourite Chilean writer ?

July 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: