I'm now finally reading Ignacio Padilla's novel Amphitryon (Espasa, 2000), which at times reminds me of moments in the stories of Borges. I finished Sandra Cisneros's novel Caramelo a few days ago and liked it overall. I agree with Jacinta Escudos's reading of the book at her blog recently. In terms of Cisneros's use of language, Caramelo is brilliant. Her novel evokes the struggles between Spanish and English that most of us U.S. Latinos encounter on a daily basis. Where the book sometimes falters is in assuming that Mexican or Chicano identity is somehow so very different from the rest of Latin America or from other Latinos. Perhaps I'll write more about it when I have time.
Finished reading Ibsen Martínez's first novel El mono aullador de los manglares (Grijalbo Mondadori, 2000). The novel concerns a writer who is struggling to maintain his sanity while working as a telenovela writer for a Caracas TV station. Martínez is hilarious, impressive and irreverent. I can see why Roberto Bolaño cited him as one of his favorite writers, shortly before he died. Martínez's Monday column in El Nacional has been particularly good in recent weeks, with his sharp critique of José Saramago's visit to Venezuela. Saramago, of course, might be the most eminent of the Pendejos Sin Fronteras who support the Chavista dictatorship from the safety of Europe or the U.S.
Also on the summer reading list are four recent chapbooks, all of which I highly recommend:
Mark Lamoureux, Film Poems (Katalanché Press, 2005)
Jess Mynes, In(ex)teriors/Ex(in)teriors (Anchorite Press, 2005)
John Mulrooney, If You See Something Say Something (Anchorite Press, 2005)
Daniil Kharms, tr. Matvei Yankelevich, The Blue Notebook (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005)
"En esos tiempos los rostros, los nombres y los destinos se hallaban en tal forma disueltos en el anonimato de la multitud en armas, que habría sido inútil pretender que la vorágine de la historia podría detenerse ante el parecer de los indivíduos que pisoteaba en su caótica desbandada."
(Ignacio Padilla, Amphitryon)