“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Roberto Bolaño's El Tercer Reich

After his death in 2003, a new and 'complete' novel by Roberto Bolaño was discovered among his papers. Entitled, El Tercer Reich (or The Third Reich), the novel was apparently written between 1988-89 and has already been published in Spanish. It's scheduled for publication in English translation in 2011. Being an obsessive Bolaño fan, I've been trying to read the novel in its original language to brush up on my Spanish. Below is my (admittedly tenuous) attempt at translating the opening paragraph:

'The murmur of the sea enters through the window mixed with the laughter of the last of the night owls, a clash that might be the waiters clearing the tables on the terrace, the occasional sound of a car slowly circling Maritime Avenue, and the unidentifiable, muffled buzzing coming from the other guests in the hotel. Ingeborge sleeps, her face like an angel never disturbed by dreams; on the bedside table there is a glass of milk that has not been drunk and now ought to be warm, and, along with a pillow half-covered by the sheets, is a Florian Linden detective novel that she had briefly read a few pages of before she fell asleep. For me, everything is the opposite: the heat and my weariness have interrupted my sleep. Typically, I sleep well for seven or eight hours daily and only very rarely do I feel tired. In the mornings I awake fresh like lettuce and with an energy that does not decline after eight or ten hours of activity. As far as I can recall, it was always this way; it is part of my nature. No one taught me, I am simply like this and don’t wish to suggest that I might be better or worse than others. On Saturdays or Sundays, Ingeborg herself, for example, doesn’t get up until midday and during the week only a second cup of coffee—and a cigarette—will succeed in rousing her and prodding her toward work. Tonight, though, the heat and my weariness have interrupted my sleep. Also, my desire to write, to record my account of the day, has stopped me from getting into bed and turning out the light.'

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