Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Talk: Guillermo Rosales

(Book talk, indeed. What else is there? Film? Eh… not much there now that we’ve slid knee deep into the summer shit storm. Well, there’s the Wolverine movie, which I saw. And there’s a slew of new garbage lined up to amuse and deaden the intellect. Hell, I just saw Touch of Evil for the 1st time after all these years and was pretty unimpressed. Sadly, my description of Lady From Shanghai made the girl not want to see it, so she left it to me to watch, again, which was great, of course—it’s the only Orson Welles movie I’ve consistently adored. Well, I do enjoy that F for Fake thing. Anyway… anyone who knows me knows that I tend to privilege the books over all else, save, maybe, for music. But I don’t follow music the way I follow literature. Anyway, I’ll have plenty of time to talk about music once the new Secret Chiefs 3 arrives. In the meantime, I’m aching to see Children of Men again. That would make a good birthday present (hint hint, niña) along with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (the movie, not the book, which I have autographed by Chuckie Baby himself). Well… for now let’s talk about books, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good books and the bad books that may be.

I’m sorry.)

After a long wait (something like a year and half, maybe two years now? I can’t recall) I’ve finally gotten my hands on an English translation of Guillermo Rosales. The book, Halfway House, was published by New Directions this month and is in stores right fucking now. I didn’t expect it to drop until the end of the month, but there it was on the Borders shelf last Thursday when I went with mi amor shopping and drinking free wine at a popular department store that was hosting an “event” which meant free booze and finger foods (the wild mushroom torte was quite good) and discounts to the ladies who packed the place while I, and other confused boyfriends, waded through the crowd of females and hounded the poor catering staff. 4 free glasses of vino deep, we got out of there and headed to the book store. I was looking for this book, which I knew would be a long shot in a mega-chain like Borders, but thought I’d scope the R section of fiction out of pure hope that Rosales was available. And it was! (Is!)

The novel(la) is a bit over 100 pages, all of which fly. I started reading the introduction to the book by Jose Manuel Prieto—whose book Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire has been on my list of to-reads for about 6 years—while waiting for my girl who was doing more shopping. My head was a touch fuzzy from the wine but the crackling intro whet my appetite regardless. Yesterday (Friday) I started the book on the train to work and finished it on the way home, having read it at lunch, in the men’s room, and any other place where I could hide while at work. (It was a lousy, busy day, but I managed to get some reading in.)

I won’t summarize or make any giant lauds and praises, I'll just note that the book did not disappoint after such a long wait, and mention, for the curious reader—and you should be—that the story is full of humor, heartbreak, violence, sex, and human waste—literally and figuratively. I was disgusted and delighted. A wonderful read. Go get you some.