Sunday, May 21, 2006

Book of Hours / Libro de Horas

No exaggeration: this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen: Poems and paintings by one of Mexico's most original and accomplished artists, Alfredo Castaneda, translated by the greatest living translator of Mexican literature, Margaret Sayers Peden. But-- oh, this world of Philistines!---it does not have a US distributor. Margaret tells me it can only be purchased from Castaneda's gallery in New York, Mary-Anne Martin Fine Arts. It was published by Artes de Mexico and has a prologue by Alberto Ruy Sanchez. (Ruy Sanchez's essay on Oaxaca, by the way, appears in my anthology, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion.) In the prologue, Ruy Sanchez writes,
The ritual of Alfredo Castaneda's Book of Hours is permeated with a modern, ironic smile, no less disturbing and profound than the questions he poses before the abyss of being. It includes poems of abounding love, of liberty, doubt, mystery, and astonishment. In its lines time blows like the wind, and the horizon speaks to us. Light literally grows brighter with each page of this volume, because it composes an illuminated space which, when drunk in by our eyes, lights our steps as we move forward through it. This Book of Hours is one of those unique works of art that inscribe their mark on time.
I couldn't have said it any better.