Machado de Assis, The Alienist

The Alienist by Machado de Assis My rating: 4 of 5 stars We could learn a lot, both about life and literature, from this 1882 novella by the Brazilian writer Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. Machado is only now becoming prominent in the Anglophone world with Liveright's publication last year of his collected short stories… Continue reading Machado de Assis, The Alienist

José Revueltas, The Hole

The Hole by José Revueltas My rating: 3 of 5 stars The Hole was written in Mexico City's Lecumberri Penitentiary in 1969 and published the same year; a classic of Latin American literature, one that Valeria Luiselli claims on the back cover has informed the works of Bolaño and Aira, the novella appears for the… Continue reading José Revueltas, The Hole

Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, The Eternaut

The Eternaut by Héctor Germán Oesterheld My rating: 4 of 5 stars Though The Eternaut only appeared in an English translation in 2015, it is often considered one of the central texts in the canon of Latin American comics and graphic novels, a work of the stature of—in other national or linguistic traditions—Maus or Watchmen,… Continue reading Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, The Eternaut

José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo, Alack Sinner

[This post combines my Goodreads reviews of both volumes of Alack Sinner, The Age of Innocence and The Age of Disenchantment.] Alack Sinner: The Age of Innocence by Carlos Sampayo and José Muñoz My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Age of Innocence is the first of two American omnibus collections of the noir graphic novels… Continue reading José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo, Alack Sinner

Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo My rating: 5 of 5 stars It sometimes seems as if great novels—where "great" implies success at the historico-political task of summing an epoch or capturing a society in fiction—almost have to be long. You know the list: Bleak House, War and Peace, Middlemarch, The Magic Mountain, Underworld, etc. But… Continue reading Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo

César Aira, Ema, the Captive

Ema, the Captive by César Aira My rating: 4 of 5 stars Reading and rereading Wilde over the years, I note a fact that his panegyrists seem not even to have suspected: the elementary and demonstrable fact that Wilde is nearly always right. —Jorge Luis Borges, "On Oscar Wilde" (trans. Esther Allen) Art never expresses… Continue reading César Aira, Ema, the Captive

Valeria Luiselli, Faces in the Crowd

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli My rating: 3 of 5 stars The honest critic must be content to find a VERY LITTLE contemporary work worth serious attention; but he must also be ready to RECOGNIZE that little, and to demote work of the past when a new work surpasses it. —Ezra Pound, ABC… Continue reading Valeria Luiselli, Faces in the Crowd

Jorge Luis Borges, Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature

Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature by Jorge Luis Borges My rating: 4 of 5 stars This recent volume (published by New Directions, translated by Katherine Silver, and edited and annotated by Martín Hadis and Martín Arias) is derived from student recordings and transcriptions of a lecture course on the history of English literature… Continue reading Jorge Luis Borges, Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature

César Aira, How I Became a Nun

How I Became a Nun by César Aira My rating: 3 of 5 stars To recap, following on from my review of the brilliant An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, César Aira is a prolific Argentine avant-gardist who writes fiction through a method he refers to as a "flight forward": he creates… Continue reading César Aira, How I Became a Nun

César Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira My rating: 5 of 5 stars This short but grand 2000 novella, seemingly regarded as its prolific author’s masterpiece, is the story of the titular painter, the real-life German landscape artist, Johan Moritz Rugendas, as he suffers a life-altering accident on the Argentine… Continue reading César Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter