There is a scene in Wong Kar-wai's In The Mood For Love (2000) of Tony Leung closing his door as Maggie Cheung walks back to her apartment, his door has the number 2046 on it, a fast-fwd to the next film, tunnel of time in the form of a science fiction short story about androids on a train. The lighting in both films, indoors, the writer as motif and individual.


Likewise the structure of Roque Dalton's novel Pobrecito poeta que era yo uses different time blocks in the 1960s and early 1970s. Book IV ("Mario") is in journal form, with successive dates in diary prose, on a post-it note: "post-Boom mid-1970s novel." Book V is "José La luz del túnel" and adheres to a testimonial format but obviously fictionalized, political intrigue, deadly humor in conversations, the poet turned campesino in the hills outside San Salvador at dawn heading into the city. An exile novel and one steeped in humor as a meaning, G. Cabrera Infante would be one reference point, the hurried, 3-D prose of La Habana para un infante difunto.

His translation with Suzanne Jill-Levine, a re-writing of the memoir-fiction in English as Infante's Inferno. An aesthetic of short stories linked together with an artificial longer narrative, the epic image though falsified from the start, the staged quality of Wong Kar-wai's actors, the chapters Cabrera Infante or Dalton write as a form of exile. So the essay takes as part of its effort the final book of Roberto Bolaño's 2666, from rural Germany of the 1920s to Russia in the 1930s, a book within a book, in journal form, long journey on foot and an episode at Dracula's castle.


"Could she have read D.H. Lawrence years ago, like me? I felt a prisoner of that island, Ile du Diable. I understood Juliet now in her firm refusal to follow me to my mythical and literary island: impossible islands, flying Laputas.
"I hate islands," I said, to dissuade her definitively.
"But Cuba is an island!" she protested.
"I don't live in Cuba, I live in Havana."
"Then you could also live in Caracas. It's a modern city with long avenues and high buildings and besides--"

(G. Cabrera Infante, Infante's Inferno, Faber, 1984.)


Reading Fulcrum's massive supplement "Give the Sea Change And It Shall Change: Fifty-Six Indian Poets (1951-2005)" edited by Jeet Thayil. The introductory essay by Thayil "One Language, Separated by the Sea" discusses the marginality of poets in India's social landscape and conduits between American and Indian poetics. The supplement includes a poem by Dom Moraes originally published in 1959, "Another Weather."

"Often this weather, when a wind has driven
Insects and dust through air, the landscape moves,
Tilting itself one way, until this wind,
Shifting the world, has purified my mind."

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