Thursday, February 28, 2008

Guest-Blogger Eric B. Martin's Pick for the Next Roberto Bolaño

Re: Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, my collection of 24 Mexican writers. If I do say so myself, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Mexico, Mexican literature, pues si, all things mexicanas. But 24 writers is a wee crowd--- no paperback collection (I mean, of the handy size that fits in a carry-on bag) could begin to cover the mulititudinous, firecracker-variety of contemporary Mexican literature. So, who's missing? Yep, Roberto Bolaño for one. Guillermo Fadanelli for another. Guest-blogging today is San Francisco-based novelist Eric B. Martin (pictured here), author most recently of The Virgin’s Guide to Mexico (and do check out that link, it's to a rave review by Jill Meyers on Bookslut, on one of the best litblogs on the 'Net).

It’s fitting somehow that the only Mexican writer to explode onto the American literary scene in recent years is 1) dead, and 2) not Mexican. From 2005-2007, the Chilean-born Bolaño--- who died in 2003--- logged four stories in The New Yorker, more than any other translated author except for Murakami. A few thoughts, then, on the search for the next Mexican crossover:

My pick: Guillermo Fadanelli
Almost completely untranslated in English and little read outside of Mexico, the forty-something Fadanelli is the greying bad boy of Mexican letters, a brutal and fluid stylist with the kind of once-in-a-generation voice that takes your breath away. Like Murakami, he is heavily influenced by American writers; like an edgier Bolaño, he sits at the center of a small, strange Mexico City literary underworld; yet he is unlike either of them or anyone else in his combination of high/low language, vision and sensibility. Hopefully he won’t have to wait until he’s dead to rock the USA.

Breakthrough book: La Otra Cara de Rock Hudson
You can taste the Mexican curb in this one. And it tastes so bad that it tastes good.

Best book so far: Lodo
This one was a finalist for the Rómulo Gallegos prize; Fadanelli took more than a year to write it, which was the longest he’d ever worked on a book. It shows.

A list of short fiction in The New Yorker, 2003-2007 (in The Millions blog)
Check out this interesting list and analysis of most every story published in The New Yorker over the last five years. Note: one of Bolaño’s stories in the December 26 2005 issue is notably missing.

---> Read more of Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts here.

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