Thursday, May 22, 2008

Geek moment, pardon

So last night I’m in class and I get back from break to hear my professor discussing Nabokov with one of the students. I ask both of them if they have read Felipe Alfau, who, in an essay I read recently, was compared to Nabokov, as well as Borges and Calvino (though he predates all of them). The prof sort of dismissed Alfau, though he said he has not read him. He then, for some reason, compared him David Foster Wallace and Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen, saying he was like them in the sense that he was show-offy and wrote as if to convey how much more than you he knew. Now, I think all the other writers mentioned are indeed too cute and clever for their own good, but Alfau? A Spaniard who published his first of only 2 novels in 1928? A writer of the inventive and incredibly fun Locos: A Comedy of Gestures that does, indeed, play with the conventions of the novel, though not in the overly academic manner of David Foster Wallace (yawn) or the hipper-than-thou fashion of Dave Eggers. My jaw hit the desk.

The prof then said something equally dismissive about the Dalkey Archive writers, which is absurd considering one of his heroes is Flan O’Brien, a Dalkey Archive writer, in fact, the writer for whom Dalkey is named.

I’m counting the days until summer.

Thanks for listening.