The new trends: To read in a group and comment later

In her book Cuentas pending Vivian Gornick –who, by the way, has a new title for literary reflection in Spanish, El fin de la novela del amor, Sexto piso– speaks with a certain longing of when, in her youth, she joined the fashions literary women in their circle and they all began to read urgent feminist theory, but also Colette, Elizabeth Bowen or D.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
19 December 2022 Monday 22:51
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The new trends: To read in a group and comment later

In her book Cuentas pending Vivian Gornick –who, by the way, has a new title for literary reflection in Spanish, El fin de la novela del amor, Sexto piso– speaks with a certain longing of when, in her youth, she joined the fashions literary women in their circle and they all began to read urgent feminist theory, but also Colette, Elizabeth Bowen or D.H. Lawrence. According to Gornick, reading in a group is abandoned with age, but it doesn't have to be that way. And there is some collective pleasure in knowing that you are part of a large cult, especially if it is with a title outside of literary novelties. It happened this summer, when many readers agreed to give Iris Murdoch her first chance with The Sea, the Sea (Lumen) and again in the fall when Annie Ernaux's Nobel was celebrated as the one who celebrates a World Cup. Her titles, published in Spanish by Cabaret Voltaire and in Catalan by Angle, are collectible like trading cards and end up in a long metro ride. And above all they give to comment on them later.

The following titles are also being read in community, or should be. To begin with, two literary rescues from the nineties. The first: Bastarda (Errata Naturae), a modern classic of American literature denigrated as white trash, in which its author, Dorothy Allison, contravenes the norms of what a working-class hero is supposed to be: always fighting against injustices, always straight and loyal, always a man. It was published in the United States in 1992 and had not yet been translated into Spanish, as was El fin de la historia (Alpha Decay), the first novel (from 1994) by an author, Lydia Davis, known and admired for writing many stories. times hyperbrief. Here she chronicles an obsessive romance of a middle-aged woman with a much younger man. In other words, 100% Ernaux territory.

The family remains a bogged-down territory from which the modern novel draws valuable material. All families are useful, if they pillage well. Whether it's the hybrid Catholic-Jewish, Guatemalan-American clan of the Goldbergs that Francisco Goldman (all similarities in surnames is no coincidence) x-rays in his highly autofictional text Monkey Boy (Almadía) or a decaying Italian home. “We all lie about our family. The family is precisely the setting for our most daring lies”, says the narrator of Lake water is never sweet / L'aigua del llac no és mai dolça (Sexto Piso / L'Altra ), by Giulia Caminito, a novel by initiation in which the protagonist is emancipated from an omnipotent mother who takes care of four children and a disabled husband.

And in a year in which much continued to be written about motherhood and its chiaroscuro—from the metaphorical Canina (Rachel Yoder, Blackie Books) and The School for Good Mothers (Jessamine Chan, Roca) to the thoughtful and profound Loved Ones (Berta Dávila, Destino)– it is good to see that many authors are also thinking of themselves as parents and incorporating that into their literary works. Eduardo Halfon (An ordinary son, in Libros del Asteroid) and Andrés Neuman (Umbilical, in Alfaguara) have done it.

Perhaps because in 2022 the future no longer seems so distant, several authors consider a proximity futurism, more realistic than catastrophic. Delphine de Vigan does it in the epilogue of Los reyes de la casa / Els nens són reis (Anagrama / Grup 62), imagining what will happen when children who are now growing up as stars on YouTube, Tik Tok and Instagram can ask for explanations to their parents, and Katixa Agirre does so in De nuevo centauro / De nou centaure (Transit / Segona Perifèria) which is set in the middle of the 21st century in a world in which mass tourism has been extinguished due to environmental exhaustion and almost all entertainment takes place in the metaverse.

In the field of provocative essays, mention must be made of the recently translated The Right to Sex (Anagram ), in which the thinker and Oxford professor Anita Srinivasan touches on almost all the topics that prick the nerve of public opinion, from the porn to consent through the incel phenomenon to arrive at a new ethics of desire. Nor does she ever go for the easy nor does climate change expert Andreas Malm seek a comfortable consensus, who moves between academic rigor and the well-understood pamphlet in books such as Fossil Capital (Captain Swing) and How to Dynamit an Oil Pipeline (Errata Naturae). . In October, by the way, it was the fifth anniversary of the

Lastly, and at a time when it makes less sense than ever to think of watertight genres, several books that, if given away, would be difficult for us to define, and we would end up explaining with a simple “you read it and tell me”. There is room for the popular essays in the form of comics about never thinking in watertight genres, several books that, if given away, would be difficult for us to define, and we would end up explaining with a simple “you read it and tell me”.

There is room for the popular essays in comic form by Liv Strömquist (the last one, The Hall of Mirrors / Dins la sala dels miralls, edited by Finestres and Reservoir Gráfica, revolves around the cult of beauty), miscellaneous books such as HEX , by Daniel López Valle (Blackie Books), which contains hidden historical episodes narrated as if they were invented – who knows – or the rare and beautiful My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, by Jenn Shapland (Two Mustaches).

This book joins other recent ones such as Life of Barbara Loden, by Nathalie Léger (Sixth Floor) in configuring a kind of obsession literature, books that are built from the author's fixation with another author. Based on real letters written by a woman named Annemarie to writer Carson McCullers, Jenn Shapland finds recognition and an account of her own life as she reflects on love on the margins. In the end she tries to say: you read it and we'll talk.

Begoña Gómez Urzaiz has recently published the periodical essay 'Las abandonadoras' (Destino)

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