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The latter book has a prologue written by Enrique Vila Matas of Barcelona. In he was awarded the Juan Rulfo Prize for the whole of his literary achievement. Shortly after the appearance of my first book of stories, in an almost secret edition, I left Mexico, and for almost thirty years I lived outside my country.
I visited it sometimes, on two occasions I spent long periods, like a year, but knowing from the beginning that I was going to leave. Here in Mexico I had a few excellent friends; my books came out without my being present, and carried on a phantom life.
Outside of a handful of very faithful readers and enthusiasts, for the rest of the Mexican readers I was non-existent, a shadow, an eccentric, far from the reality of Mexico and Hispano-America, cooped up in a moveable marble tower, creating audacious stories set in Venice or Samarkand. To suddenly arrive in Mexico to spend a few weeks and be wined and dined by very close old friends was wonderful, as well as finding a small group of young people in the most unexpected corner of the city that knew my work better than I did.
After this novel a wider public became aware of me. Pedro M. Is your world really like that? What a story! I wrote it traveling between Madeira, Lanzarote, and Marienbad, in marvelous clinics where I was convalescing from a complicated gall bladder operation. It was a life of spas, boring, crepuscular, and gluttonous, like a Von Stroheim film. It was a period devoted to Gogol.
I read and re-read almost his entire work, as well as several excellent books on his writing and bizarre life. Those readings, which were a hymn to liberty, and those of Gogol, became an integral part of my theme.
It was the last novel I wrote in Europe. I was in Barcelona for the presentation. Jorge Herralde went all out on that occasion, and every day in my hotel I received many journalists from the cultural sections of the Madrid and Catalan press. Some friends who had already read it praised it highly. I really felt like the divine heron. Days later, in Madrid I boarded the plane that would take me to Mexico, and the first thing I did, like everyone else, was to pick up some newspapers and magazines to glance through during the trip.
I opened the first, which no longer exists, looked for the cultural section and immediately saw the brilliant cover of my book; and I began to read the commentary. The commentator stated that he had thrown my literary trajectory in the urinal, that I had been seduced by the money that an author collects from books as repellent as that one.
That once I had tumbled into the sewer it would be very difficult for me to get out of it. This soothed me and I was able to sleep for a while. When I woke up I again read that tirade and found that yes, it was true, it was real, but now the shock had passed. It was an exemplary lesson. The only thing that bothered me was that it would be the first review of my novel, and might be the first one to arrive in Mexico. There is a constantly warring couple with the backdrop of a society that has lost its energy, vitality and sense of almost everything.
A world that is like a rudderless ship heading for disaster. A society resulting from many decades of corruption and decay, the flower of the PRI Revolutionary Institutional Party. I feel tenderness for the protagonist, for his capacity to survive, for his chaotic rebelliousness, for his limitations, for all his fruitless efforts. At the end the couple celebrates their fifty years of marriage, their golden wedding anniversary, and what is left of it is rubble, mutilated bodies and an angry old age.
The desire of each to break off with the other as soon as possible. That is what their fifty years of marriage has been; there is no cure for the couple, they will go on that way till the end. Does this book represent a kind of sentimental education and a civil education to show that ego and its exterior manifestation?
More than that I find impossible. Writing some of its chapters caused me intolerable pain, others entertained me and made me feel very happy. There are essays that turn into stories and then go back to being essays. There is trivia, winks, gossip, dreams galore, digressions about Thomas Mann, but also about my dog, Sacho.
It ends with an account of my trip to the state of Chiapas a few weeks before the insurrection. I think, as I already told you, that everything I write is a kind of infused biography, oblique, and in this book the flow of life erupted more forcefully and therefore is more visible than in any of my other books. But at my age I have come to enjoy the possibility of having enemies. When one fights with the family or with dear friends, it is always a wound, whether one is to blame or is the victim of the event that caused the rupture.
To what degree are both aspects important in your work although the travel for you, nevertheless, does not have the sense of exploration or sightseeing, your cities are places you have experienced which appear time and again in your writing?
The friends and the cities complement each other. My curiosity about places, both known and unknown, is never satisfied. Nevertheless, I have never been able to intelligently describe a city, not even the ones I love the most. In my novels I restrict myself to certain parts of the urban map, a plaza, a street, the facade of a church, and I make use of them as a mere backdrop, perhaps like those used by the dramatists of the Golden Age of Spain or the Elizabethans in England, mere painted cloths that indicate simply that: a street, the atrium of a church, a plaza, a garden, the drawing room of a house, a room at an inn.
I try to imprint a certain reality, not by the description of the places, but rather by other details of atmosphere, which also support the structure. Its primary essence is a literary construction which seems to me to be different from the kind of books on the Communist world. I try to be a camera which photographs my emotions. Of course there are exceptions, among them two eminent Poles: K. Karol and Ryszard Kapuseynski. In addition to Soviet politics, they were interested in the society, especially Russian individuality, its eccentricity, the impossibility of fitting everyone into the same mold; and in addition to other methods of following the temper of their culture, they observed the literature, music, films and theater.
Of course, what they call the Russian soul, which is very complex, is only an imitation, a parody, a temperamental explosion. Cioran wrote prodigiously about the religious feelings of the Russians, their elevated sensibility.
Now, the grossness, the vulgarity, the cruelty can be extreme. You can read any work of Dostoyevski to prove it: Prince Mirsky, the merchant Rogadov. I say that because this little diary expresses great homage to Russian literature.
Is that it? This one is less powerful than its predecessor. But that was my intention. Actually, the only time it appears is in the terrible letter of Meyerhold, the great man of the theater, when he describes to a high-ranking politician the tortures inflicted upon him by the KGB. In this book, the main basis of the work is a real diary, mine, and those pages of the diary bring forth other moments: previous stays in Moscow on a diplomatic assignment, readings of Russian authors since childhood, painting, friendships, the Russian avant-garde of the early years of the revolution, dreams, games which disguise reality, parody, quotations to back up my stories, especially of two geniuses born in the Balkans who later became universally famous: Canetti and Cioran.
In the background of everything, behind the words, flows a literary current, a desire to construct a great edifice in homage to Russian literature. Is this how you justify a large part of your creative process? They appear in other forms. They are almost the most brilliant and powerful part of a book. Dreams can be part of my work, but only if they form an active part of the architecture and theme of a book.
Their heritage in literature is enormous. In Dostoyevski the dream element is indispensable. That dream of Raskolnikov very near the beginning where a little boy watches in terror as a crowd beats a poor old horse to death, and passersby stop to watch that carnage as if it were something normal and almost pleasant. In Borges there are magnificent dreams.
In all modesty, I align myself with that family. I mean, the art of playing with the genres to compose a tale halfway between what one presupposes is a novel, a chronicle or an autobiography? It seemed to me that to start another one would become mechanical, and I saw that each time I wrote an essay or a conference, some minimal narrative threads appeared in the text, and even some eccentric characters, which broke the flow of the essay. Or also, I would appear as a character to tell some rather private story.
It mixes various genres, the author, me, is the protagonist of some texts, then appears as a mere amanuensis. It is a novel, a life chronicle, nourished by frivolities, but also by passions. To help me accept the fact, I tell myself that two of the novelists I have admired, E.
Forster y Julien Graq, who produced marvelous novels, stopped doing them before they were fifty, without giving up writing. Vida de spa, fastidiosa, crepuscular, golosa como del cine de Von Stroheim. Fue un periodo consagrado a Gogol. Hay ensayos que se vuelven relatos y terminan de nuevo como ensayos.
Pero a mi edad he venido a disfrutar la posibilidad de tener enemigos. En cambio, ser odiado por alguien no estimado, alguien por quien uno siente desprecio o indiferencia es como ganarse un premio, no uno grande, claro, sino de tercera o cuarta clase.
Los amigos y las ciudades se complementan. Hay claro excepciones, entre ellas dos polacos eminentes: K. Karol y Ryszard Kapuscynski. En el fondo de todo, bajo la palabra, se desliza una corriente literaria, un anhelo de construir un gran edificio en homenaje a la literatura rusa. Aparece de otro modo. Su prosapia en la literatura es enorme. Yo, modestamente, me acerco a esa familia. Ahora creo que ya debo terminar con esto. Me siento en tierra de nadie.
Me digo para conformarme que dos de los novelistas que he admirado, E. Your email address will not be published.
El Desfile Del Amor
The latter book has a prologue written by Enrique Vila Matas of Barcelona. In he was awarded the Juan Rulfo Prize for the whole of his literary achievement. Shortly after the appearance of my first book of stories, in an almost secret edition, I left Mexico, and for almost thirty years I lived outside my country. I visited it sometimes, on two occasions I spent long periods, like a year, but knowing from the beginning that I was going to leave. Here in Mexico I had a few excellent friends; my books came out without my being present, and carried on a phantom life.
The Return of the Magician: A Conversation with Sergio Pitol
Sergio Pitol Mexico, is the author of eight short story books, among which figure Mephistos' Waltz , published in Spain by Anagrama and awarded with it's original title Bukhara Nocturne the Xavier Villaurrutia Novel Award , for best short stories collection published in Mexico in , and five novels: The Flute's Twang , Floral Games , Love Parade , winner of the Premio Herralde de Novela, Taming the Wild Heron and Married Life , published in the aforesaid collection. These three last works, although independent from one another, have been published as Triptico del Carnaval Carnival Triptych. His books have also been published saddled in-between various literary forms; The Art of Fugue , The Voyage and the Vienna Magician , collected in Trilogy of Memory. Afterwards, his personal anthology appeared The Best Short Stories Sergio Pitol has received numerous awards, two which standout in the Spanish speaking world for a life-time achievement, namely the Juan Rulfo of Mexico and the Cervantes in Spain. Literary Genres: contemporary fiction - essays - history, literary theory and criticism.