Britain's first book blogger (November 2000). Also available in book form.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Reviewers' block

Here its comes again, the herd. Treading the same old ground, their own ground, churning it, thick, brown and sticky. The collective incontinence. So, Melissa McClements in the Financial Times: "Vila-Matas seems determined to make his readers go intertextually insane":
Some of the other writers and literary thinkers referred to in just the first 25 pages include Spanish poet Justo Navarro, Argentine novelist Ricardo Piglia, Mexican writer Sergio Pitol, French surrealist Jacques Vache, Italian humorist Achille Campanile, Marxist literary critic Walter Benjamin, New York literary critic Harold Bloom, Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas, French poet Arthur Rimbaud, Czech writer Franz Kafka, American poet Ezra Pound and, most tellingly, Jorge Luis Borges, the giant of 20th-century Latin American literature, famous for his self-reflexive, labyrinthine fiction.
Is she trying to drive us insane too or don't her references count? "Czech writer" indeed.
Montano’s father is also suffering from his own kind of 'literary disease'. He is so steeped in literature that he can only see the world in terms of it - he walks around a particular park in Nantes because the surrealist Andre Breton wrote about it; and he sees his son’s erratic behaviour in terms of Hamlet’s mood swings.
Whereas mainstream reviewers see literature only in terms of the world, the world of fashion, the smug falsifications of realism and the demands of idle gratification.
At one point its narrator angrily throws aside a biography of the philosopher Thomas Browne - something readers not in the middle of a doctorate on literary critical theory might well find themselves emulating with this book itself.
The book itself - what an idea!

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