The Illogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila-Matas

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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 ?

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Weekend reads Kassel revisited

Well this is a feature I have been doing a few weeks featuring the books I hold the spotlight on two books I plan to read over a weekend , not that I do but on  whole it is what I read that weekend .But today is a perfect example of what happens , best laid plans and that I had originally had another book in mind , but after work I was checking my emails and saw the library had email to say this had arrived .

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The latest book by Enrique Vila – Matas called The Illogic of Kassel ,I so pleased this came today so I can get to it straight away .This again is a piece of Metafiction with Enrique Vila-Matas going to the Germany city of Kassel to the Documenta (this is a collection of modern art piece around the city every five year ) ,I used live in Germany and my Partner of the time father lived in Kassel , which we visited during one of the Documenta’s the city has a number of pieces around it by Joseph Beuys which strangely came from the city I actually lived in Germany at the time  Kleve .So you can imagine a book describing this city and visiting it plus modern art is just amazing .A bonus being one of my favourite writers as well

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My good blogger friend Lisa is to blame for the second book this weekend she is running her Indigenous week on her Anzlitlovers blog again .I picked this classic of African fiction Lemona’s tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa a member of the Ogoni people of Nigeria , he was a spokesman for them during his life this follows last day in Lemona life as she sits in a prison .The writers own life was mirrored somewhat as he was arrested and killed in the 90’s by the military Government of the time .

 

Never any end to Paris by Enrique Vila Matas

Never any end to Paris

Never any end to Paris by Enrique Vila Matas

Spanish fiction

Original title – París no se acaba nunca

Translator – Anne McLean

Source – Review copy

Gil: Would you read it?
Ernest Hemingway: Your novel?
Gil: Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it.
Gil: Well you haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

From Midnight in Paris via Imdb 

I have reviewed a book by Enrique Vila Matas on the blog before and that is one of my favourite from my time blogging so it was with both hope and fear I approached this one ,it came out a couple of years ago in the US ,but today sees the UK version come out .So I rather gave away a bit what the book is about with the Midnioght in Paris quote .

I went to Paris in the mid seventies and there I was very poor and very Unhappy .I would like to say that I was happy like Hemingway ,but then I would go back to being the poor young man ,handsome and stupid , who fooled himself on a daily basis and believed he’d been very lucky to be able to live in that filthy Garret that Maguerite Duras rented him

Dreams and different times sometimes aren’t as good at they seem or are they !

Well like Dubliners which is the other book under review on the blog here it is a book about Literature and writing ,this time it is a man called Enrique Vila Matas (that may or may not be the writer ) whom has read Hemingway’s moveable feast and has been inspired to go to Paris and rent a Garrett from great French writer Marguerite Duras and try to be a writer ,to try improve as a writer ,he has already had one book published and is working on the second whilst learning about writing in Paris ,the second book The lettered assain is an actual book (more about that later ) So has Paris swallowed Enrique or has he discovered his muse whilst trying to be Satre or Heminway in seventies france ? well you have to try to find out .

I think I unconsciously reflected this dichotomy between Rimbaud and Mallarme in The  lettered assassin ,where I invented two diametrically opposed writers .

Oooh  so want see this one in English either that or learn enough Spanish

Now I was going to leave this until Spanish lit month but no its an early taster and it is just because I want to shout buy this book ,although if I know the folk that read this blog all the time a book about trying to be a writer in Paris is going to be up everyone’s street ,this is a classic struggle of the writer taking a small room or garret and then trying to put out that masterpiece or go mad from Maugham Philip trying to be an artist in Of human bondage ,through Knut Hamsun Hunger ,Borges put himself in his  story Borges and I like Vila Matas has here ,then recently Bolano where every one of his characters is  a part or to use that Borges style a reflection of him Bolano and yes this Enrique Vila Matas in this book is reflection of himself .He also evokes that time of post 1968 France a sort of country searching for itself slightly which is something France did pre Mitterrand.Oh and it would be a great chance to have translated the Lettered assassin and bring it out the same time as this me for one would have brought it after this as it is in some ways a long advert for that book good or bad you just want to find out more about it after you put this one down .The cover is a great Homage to a Hemingway cover for farewell to arms ,thanks knew when this arrived it remind me of something ,rob of robaroundbooks pointed it out

Have you a favourite book about writing and writers ?

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