I was halfway to hell, taking the slow road through Inferno, when the library informed me I had run out of renewal requests. I was enjoying reading thI was halfway to hell, taking the slow road through Inferno, when the library informed me I had run out of renewal requests. I was enjoying reading this translation- it's full of horribly beautiful images, like the circle of non-believers that just stand around for eternity filling the air with the hum of their collective sighs - but obviously I wasn't making my way to its spiritual conclusion with enough urgency. Now I owe the £2.30 Fine of the Damned!...more
This novel moves back and forth between the lives of two estranged friends (and between two storytelling styles) now living in 'modern' Peru/Europe anThis novel moves back and forth between the lives of two estranged friends (and between two storytelling styles) now living in 'modern' Peru/Europe and the 'ancient' Amazon. It has an elegance and clarity to it that I really liked, a kind of no-bullshit poetry. I guess it's sort of a meditation on the magic of stories being able to move through different worlds and connect disparate people through space and time, but without being so obvious as that.
I particularly enjoyed the style of the Amazonian storyteller's mythical tales, which contain different characters often sharing the same name (Tasurinchi). This was confusing at first but seemed to function a bit like a magic trick, a necessary ritual of confusion we have to go through to feel what is going on for ourselves- to move between the real and mythical, the human and animal, or between people. I don't know how authentic it is to a real storytelling tradition but it's an interesting literary device. It reminds me of something a Catholic bishop on television said once (can't remember his name, but he was a writer himself responding to literal readings of the bible) who was explaining the Hebrew narrative device of placing the same character in two different stories, and how this would be understood by the readers of the time as a way of saying the same god is present in both situations, not that these two events actually happened one after the other to the same person. Anyway, something like that...
I like this bit too. It reminds me how the best storytellers I've met are also good listeners. That all the best and most important stories are right in front of us if we pay attention:
(view spoiler)["Lying quietly, with closed eyes, the storyteller is listening. Thinking: Let everyone forget me. Then one of my souls leaves me. And the Mother of something that is all around me comes to visit me. I hear, I am beginning to hear. Now I can hear. One and all have something to tell. That is, perhaps, what I have learned by listening. The beetle, as well. The little stone you can hardly see, it's so small, sticking out of the mud. Even the louse you crack in two with your fingernail has a story to tell. If only I could remember everything I've been hearing. You'd never tire of listening to me, perhaps." (hide spoiler)]