Writers die twice, first their bodies and then their work ”, wrote Leonard Michaels in an opportunity anticipating what would end up happening to him: less than 20 years after his death, part of his work (not very extensive, all excellent) already it is not available, and the same happens with that of the writers Gina Becerra and Andrés Durán, who “achieved the fame that accompanies the prestigious awards and the recognition of critics and the public, but that glow was too brief.”
Not the least difference between Michaels and the other two writers (“connected by a courageous and enduring faith in the genre of the short story”) is that the former actually existed, while the other two are book characters in the wake of those of Marcel Schwob, Alfonso Reyes, Jorge Luis Borges and other authors of “lives” studied by Lorena Amaro. Imaginary deaths It is a “boat of the dead” in which Marta Cisternas sail, who animates a gathering from inside an iron lung, a hypothetical Chilean secretary of Mario Vargas Llosa turned into his widow and Lena Escuti, who narrated the torture with such precision and the assassinations of Augusto Pinochet’s secret police, which used his dialogues in interrogations.
“The dead”, writes Roberto Castillo Sandoval, “always find a way to return the attention we give them”, and this is what happens with María Virginia Estenssoro (La Paz, 1903-São Paulo, 1970), Pablo Palacio and Armonía Somers. From the first, the Bolivian publishing house Dum Dum recovers The deceased (1937), three stories that the author defined as “a crucifixion”: in the first, the “pale deceased” contemplates a decomposition of his corpse that, when finished, is like “a scream of spasm, a convulsion of pleasure, the last ejaculation ”; in the second, a woman dreams of the child or children she aborted, that perhaps they belonged to the deceased and perhaps not; in the third, another woman or the same woman waits for a man who does not arrive (perhaps the dead one) with whom she once dreamed that she was “sailing on a glass liner.”
The publication of The deceased it caused an earthquake, and Estenssoro no longer published again; She had narrated experiences about which the women of the time should not speak, and she had also done so with an avant-garde gesture that scandalized “the prudes, the fools, the inquisitorial moralists, the ignorant friars, the good-natured pious women. , naive and limited ”. Dum Dum completes its edition with a foreword by the specialist Mary Carmen Molina Ergueta, a biography, an exhaustive bibliography and photographs of the author. More succinct, the Colombian editors of Pablo Palacio (Loja, 1906-Guayaquil, 1947) only add a prologue to the joint publication of ‘A man killed by kicking’ and the novels Life of the Hangman (1932) and Débora (1927). Palacio didn’t actually publish much else: in 1940 he voluntarily entered a psychiatric hospital and did not leave it again. His books, which César Aira once defined as “strange masterpieces” circulating homosexuals, cannibals, suicides, adulterers (a husband leaves his wife because she abuses the expression “Sure!”), Murderers and monsters The abject seem to escape the narrator’s control over and over again, something that connects its author with Felisberto Hernández, Juan Emar, Clarice Lispector, Mario Bellatin and other writers of the strange and the singular such as Aira and Armonía Somers himself (Pando, 1914 -Montevideo, 1994), from whom Contraband recovers a volume of stories these days –The collapse– while Foam Pages announces the imminent publication of its Complete Tales. The collapse (1953) is a hypnotic baroque in which sexuality and religiosity appear inextricably linked, as in the story that gives the collection its name, in which a homeless black man frees a virgin from her wax corset melting it with his hands, also the one that covers the genital area.
None of this apparently has to do with the lives of Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Assia and David Wevill, but Jorge Volpi proves that it does in a game of mirrors in which the characters seduce and are seduced, reject and are rejected, hurt and they fit the damage over the course of 40 years, from their first meeting to the suicides of Plath and Assia. The insane needles (as Hughes once defined his two partners, both extraordinary poets) is a reflection on vocation and drive and suicide. “Since we left home I promised myself that I would come to seduce you”, Assia tells Ted, and Sylvia, in an aside: “You will think that I am a bitch. And you will be right ”. “Do you see the same as me? Am I not crazy? ”Sylvia asks, addressing the audience. The characters throw embroidery needles at each other that can also be hurt, and a man can be “a Greek hero. A God. A vermin. A pig ”without ceasing to be himself, and also a great poet.
David Markson once hinted “that Sylvia Plath did not expect her suicide to be a success”; Whatever it may have been, the author of La campana de cristal is also the protagonist of the new book by the Mexican writer in Spanish and Ladino Myriam Moscona. In it, Hemingway is “the great daffodil wrapped in gin dreams”, ee cummings “always / is doing / poems / on the lap / of death”, Dylan Thomas “reasons in the 18th whiskey”, Frank O’Hara, “Like a fruit / in full maturity it spoils / at the moment of its point” and the English language is “spilled / double-faced / dominant”, but also “Londoner / Texan / Dubliner”, “black / jazzeada / prestigious”, “ white / punctual / mestizo ”,“ hiphopera / dreamer / businessman ”,“ sticky / punker / sophist ”,“ beaten / great again / unattainable ”,“ dirty / beautiful / dead ”.
The death of the English language is inspired by Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters and collects epitaphs of the aforementioned writers, as well as William Carlos Williams, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Wilfred Owen, Robert Lowell (“the heart / like a nylon stocking / tore / was to be seen / with his second wife “), Anne Sexton (” Why did you envy your friend Sylvia? / Why did you call her a thief? / Did you win the idea of the oven? “), Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens and others. “All humanity is of a single author and forms a single volume, when someone dies it seems that a page has been torn from him,” wrote John Donne. But things are somewhat more complex in the case of writers, and they sometimes return, with the recovery of their work (Estenssoro, Palacio, Somers) or their inclusion as characters (Volpi, Moscona) in the books of others. They also do it every time a reader restores, through the act of reading, the torn page. And that restitution is what these books propose.