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Another week, another 5-star review—it can’t be helped; this one richly deserves it. This novel came to my attention after seeing a quote on Castellanos Moya from Roberto Bolaño somewhere and then finding another one on the back cover of this incredible book:
One of the great virtues of [his work]: nationalists of all stripes can’t stand it. Its sharp humor, not unlike a Buster Keaton film or a time bomb, threatens the fragile stability of imbeciles who, when they read [his work], have an uncon...more
The narrator is one of the most lovable assholes I've ever encountered. Intelligent, sardonic, alcoholic, lecherous, paranoid, enamored with beautiful/haunting language, and concerned above all else with self-preservation. He doesn't care about much more than saving his own ass (and getting paid) but he doesn't BS you about it...more
The title is the opening sentence in this strangling little novella - I read Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya in something like two GRIM HOURS. It’s hard to believe I was laughing at page 60-something and then by page 135 I felt I’d been beaten up. The style is breathless and fast - starting right off with enormous sentences peppered with commas that run the length of three and a quarter pages, the violence tangental and brutal, and the narrator’s mental dec...more
"how are we to enjoy this prose, though? It’s content is either horrific torture or overwritten ramblings. If we find the former beautiful, even to be troubled by it, we are exactly like the copyeditor, callous in our acclaim for language in the face of such atrocities, acts to which the only proper response would be silence or howl or a Celan-esque attempt, ultimately fru...more
The narrator is working for the Catholic Church doing a final copy edit on a thousand page report of f...more
Paranoid, womanizing alcoholic copy-editor loses what little was left of his mind while proofing a 1,100 page account of atrocities committed against the country's indigenous population.
This book (like David Griffith's "A Good War is Hard to Find") is about violence and how we process the pain of others, and how violence in art impacts us as well. Often hilarious in the same breath that it is darker than nearly anything I've e...more
The voice and style Moya used is interesting, and at times enjoyable. The rants of the character’s mind were expressive of an emotional mind. I liked digging into his psyche as the story developed. I liked how I didn’t really know if all of...more
The late Chilean author Roberto Bolaño once wrote that Horacio Castellanos Moya’s work is “insufferable to nationalists,” that it “threatens the hormonal stability of imbeciles.” Though Bolaño died before he could read Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez, recently published in English by New Directions, he would doubtless have found in this little novel the most substantive and astounding manifestations of the Salvadoran novelist’s dogged and graceful host...more
This is a text about a reader; an eccentric reader who is not “complete in the mind”. Towards the end of this slim volume it occurred to me that the narrator may not be telling the story as it happened but rather recounti...more
We tell our friends about it, we quote from the book, we go on and on about it. Now, imagine that this book is a 1,100 page tome about the massacre of Indians by the m...more
”I am not complete in the mind”, begins the journalist who has been paid to edit a five hundred page report on atrocities committed during a series of massacres seventeen years before. It is the first gem of the poetry of the oppressed to be collected in the journalist’s notebook. It is a sentence dominates his unstable mind as he slogs through the one thousand one hundred page report that he has been paid too l...more
I'm hoping there are other books by Horacio Castellanos Moya translated into English!
Horacio Castellanos Moya and his family moved to El Salvador while he was only a few years old. He lived in San Salvador until 1979.
He then worked twelve years as a journalist in Mexico and has lived in Costa Rica, Canada, Guatemala, Spain and Germany, under the auspices of the Frankfurt International Book Fair.
From 2006 to 2008 he was writer in residenc...more