Tuesday, 24 July 2012

jumping and leaping

I don't particularly like the plane magazines very much. Still, not a single flight goes by without me taking one of those magazines out of the front pocket each time I sit on a plane.
Sometimes you find interesting thing, especially on BA: they got some interesting columnist and the photos are really cool.
Some weeks ago I was on a Air Lingus flight, when the book review on their magazine, Cara, caught my attention. They were reviewing books that had some links with Ireland, but none of them was written by Irish. There was one novel by Mario Vargas-Llosa, "The dream of the Celt", about Roger Casement: I'll end up reading it, I know it. Since reading "King Leopold's ghost" I have always being drowned by the lives of the people that fought to stop the genocide of Congo.j
And, since it was June, the month of Bloomdsday, what else to expect? Something about Joyce, ça va sans dire.
The second book reviewed on the magazine was the one I bought once back home, "Dublinesque" by Enrique Vila-Matas. I have to admit the choice was partly driven by the cover artwork: the leaping man has something of Cartier-Bresson, I felt I could take a leap of faith with him and dive into reading this book.

Little I when of what I was getting myself into.
This book is a never-ending assortment and catalogue of quotes.
In its own way, it's a funny, weird book: the main problem is that the idea of the novel itself is charming and lovely, but it's written in such an arrogant, annoying and stand-offish way that all the charme is killed.

The novel has a lot of quotes, too many. I think the average is more than one quote per page.
The main character, Riba, collects quotes on a ever-so-expanding word file on his pc. The novel itself feels like an extension of such a fine: the continuous referring and citing is so that when I got at about one third of the book, I doubted anything happened since the beginning.
I should have given up some time ago, but part of myself, specifically the one still without library card, kept on giving the book a second try over an over.

So I kept reading, torn in between a "maybe it'll turn around now" and a "WTF?!? this guy is even worse than La Rochefoucault!!!"
In the first 2 third of the book nothing happened: Riba, a former publisher and the worst manifesto ever to recovering from alcoholism ever (jeez man, you are the most absurd bore ever!), lives in Barcelona with his wife Celia and spends his time googling mainly himself. Every Wednesday he goes to visit his ageing parents and gets annoyed with them because they keep asking him what he's thinking about. Well, I'm sorry Riba, but why going to your parents to dwell on quotes by your famous intellectual friend and reflecting over the end of the Gutenberg era?

I kept reading, assisting at his plan to go to Dublin, but the more I read the more I skipped. I started skipping some quotes here and there, then I start dribbling around the sentences next to the quotes and, before even realizing it, I was skipping page over page.

I'm not sure what's gotten into me, or what left me: this inability of choosing an interesting book to read has started to impact my mood.
I gave up on Riba at the end. I gave up on him, his Celia and his parents, his friends, his English leap (and by the way, who would take an "English" leap by going to Ireland!?!?, his being a recluse and his disappointment at not having found a great writer to launch.

Just like the main on the front cover, I chose to jump: instead0 of wondering about the result of Riba's leap, I took a big jump over the puddle that this book represents to me. Some drops of water may have reached me, but I know they will dry soon enough.
I am ready for the next book, hoping it's going to be better (I think it won't take that much).

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