Alan Pauls is a liar.

An interesting news item from one of the roving cronistas at Ñ who attended a session of last week’s Ibero-American Festival of New Narrative in Ushuaia, Argentina – aka “the end of the Earth” (have you ever seen anything more beautiful?). “It may be,” begins Andrés Hax,

that the most interesting question one can ask an author is also the most obvious: when, how and why did you first begin to write?

This question, when put to (renowned author and filmmaker) Edgardo Cozarinsky and (literary superstar) Alan Pauls, did indeed bear some striking fruit. While Cozarinsky described the challenges he faced as he struggled to realize his childhood dream of writing, Pauls took a more flippant stance, stating that he has always had two principal vices: reading and lying*. The article sums it up thus (in my translation, at least):

Pauls salvages, in his recollections of his early days as a writer, an aspect of fiction that is rarely discussed in the Academy or the cultural press: the way in which writing occasionally channels antisocial tendencies. In Pauls’ case, he describes how he was able to parlay his penchant for lying into the work of making literature, turning his lies “into something viable.”

There is something appealing in the twinning of these activities – reading and lying, lying and writing. It’s something we all know, of course, but it’s always nice to hear it well-phrased (I can’t say that I share Hax’s nostalgia for the topic, which to my mind is pretty central to the way most people think about literature today).

The rest of the article, along with a video (in Spanish) of the writers’ responses, can be found here.

* Having read Pauls’ novel Wasabi (Alfaguara, 1994), I would like to submit that reading and lying may not be his only vices. More on that in the full write-up of the book, which is already long overdue.

Image from "Dog Star Man" (1961) by Stan Brakhage

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