It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for the blog, but that’s not to say I haven’t been keeping busy. I just finished the manuscript draft of my translation of Los Planetas, a beautiful, melancholy novel by contemporary Argentinean writer Sergio Chejfec. I’ve also been keeping track of another of his, titled My Two Worlds. It’s his first full-length work to be translated into English, and it’s due out in just under a week (Open Letter Books is publishing three of his novels over the next few seasons). I’m really excited that he’s finally getting the exposure he deserves here in the States – Chejfec’s narrative voice is really unlike anything I’ve come across recently, though he has sometimes been compared to W.G. Sebald. Anyway, I wrote a brief note on Margaret Carson’s translation of My Two Worlds for BigOther.com, which I may expand upon (here, there, anywhere) as new thoughts arise.
In the meantime, here is a great conversation between Chejfec and the French collective, Fric-Frac Club. For a taste…
FFC: First literary memory (or emotion)?
SC: My first literary emotion is of a private and defeated sort. I was a very and consistently bored child (I think this was a common thing for my generation, at least it’s what I’ve got to think). One day, it occurred to me to send a fictitious postcard to my mother : it would be written by a sister she had never heard of, who would announce therein that she had numerous revelations to disclose : a dark and scandalous family past, a very sad past, and so on, a real melodrama. In order that the story seem truer, I had to send the card from another country: Paraguay. During my childhood, Paraguay had been for me an exotic country (it was by way of Paraguay that my parents had come secretly into Argentina, after the Second World War). The text was written and I was ready to go buy the postcard at the corner bookstore, on which to to copy it out. But once there, I realized that they didn’t sell postcards for Paraguay, and more problematically even, that I could not send a card from Paraguay! These obstacles proved insurmountable, I had to resign myself finally to the plan’s failure.
I don’t know if there’s some lesson to be taken from this story, or whether to consider it a major defeat. I think that today I would not assign so much importance to details, which seemed so essential then to the making of a credible story. But it was the first time I wrote a fiction and I still remember my anxiety on the walk to the bookstore, in search of a postcard for Asunción del Paraguay.