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The Last Review

All final occasions are sad. Especially when we know it’s the last. We try and make more time for ourselves, we order more coffee, and let the waiter update our final check until our goodbyes multiply themselves at the door and we reach the last one. I propose, then, to extenuate this last review and multiply the recommendations until the characters requested by this beautiful magazine mute my enthusiasm.

With “La cadena del desánimo”, Pablo Katchadjian ratifies one of Reinaldo Laddaga’s theoretical premises: all literatures aspire to the condition of contemporary art. Indeed, after fattening up Borges’ Aleph and alphabetically ordering the Martín Fierro, Katchadjian has composed his last ‘novel’ completely out of newspaper quotes from throughout 2012 until the day before the infamous 7D. Far from being a mere gesture, the succession of quotes provokes a kind of trance that hypnotises the reader in the exact opposite way mass media usually does: the montage strips away not only the mediation but the actual construction of the ‘real’.

Katchadjian’s work is a perfect example of past, a concept coined by Juan José Mendoza in his book “Escrituras past”: a mix of pastiche and paste (in the sense of copy & paste) that operates on the art of the past reconfiguring it, recontextualising it and, hence, reappropriating it.

Mejor que ficción”, edited by Jordi Carrion, compiles the best chronicles of Latin American authors amongst which we can read: Pedro Lemebel viscerally narrating the murder of a trans woman; the portrait of a ‘digital dealer’ of pirated movies by Alberto Fuguet; and Juan Villoro commenting on the eccentricities of Japan, far away from his native Mexico.

Although I’m running out of characters, I don’t really need them since not a single word needs to be said about the quality of Alejandro Rubio’s poems, but perhaps just some about its quantity: all of his poems in one single tome, “La enfermedad mental”. Priceless!

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“Chicos” by Sergio Bizzio

After the economic crisis in 2001, Interzona was one of the first publishers to reorganise Argentina’s cultural field. By betting on the construction of a quality catalog, it opposed the dominating consumption logic of the publisher world that makes new books spend little time in shops only to be quickly recalled and forever out of stock. The distinguished editor Damián Ríos directed the Interzona project and because of him many of the most important titles in Argentina’s contemporary literature came to light.

After a series of economic struggles, Interzona is back and reprinting many of the books that inaugurated the impeccable quality of its catalog. “Chicos” by Sergio Bizzio is one of those books. Bizzio is a narrator, a poet, a playwright, and a movie director. “Chicos” demonstrates his huge narrative palette: a delirious talent that gives life to characters named Uma and Thurman in the story “El Totem”; the fakeness behind progressive culture symbolised in the sexual initiation of a hermaphrodite preadolescent in “Cinismo”, the story on which the movie “XXY” was based on. In less than ten pages, “Magia” captures perfectly the fragile state of an adolescent facing the world and the relationships he’ll have to confront. “Un amor para toda la vida” tells of an adolescent love triangle extended into the future, where there is no longer any time looking forward but only the little time we have left for our daily affairs.

In the variety of its stories, “Chicos” confirms not only the talent of the Argentine author but also the vital importance of publishers such as Interzona that allow for talents like these to emerge.

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“La masacre de Reed College” by Fernando Montes Vera

La masacre de Reed College” narrates the story of Mariano Bustamante, a young Argentinian who lands a job teaching Spanish at Reed College in Portland. Once there, he will run into the strangeness of the American academic lifestyle as well as the plans of a Korean student to mass murder the students.

The character’s foray into the American University is quite the change of scenery. Tired of Argentina’s precarious job market, where he drifts in between call centers and short-term contracts, Mariano reaches the Land of Plenty. But he soon realises it’s a land of terrifying abundance, where every single thing has its pre-assigned place, even personal identities.

The novel achieves a tone of suffocating urgency, alternating between scenes in Buenos Aires and Portland. If the sense of urgency is created through the novel’s early announcement of the massacre and its eventual unraveling; the suffocating atmosphere is a result of the protagonist’s impossibility of escaping becoming increasingly evident.

The ‘Starbucks logic’ that Slavoj Zizek analyses in a series of conferences illustrates a key point: if one used to be a consumer and felt any guilt because of it, one was forced to counterbalance the act of consuming so as to become a more ethical person. Now, however, one can simply be a consumer, since the ethical aspect is resolved by buying any product that collaborates with a politically correct organisation.

Mariano is a traveler of two worlds but of only one kingdom: contemporary capitalism’s perversity and prescience. The grief he felt in his slave-like job so typical of multinational corporations in the Global South is infinitely increased when he gets to know the real terror of an immense diversity that has been integrally and radically coopted.

This first great novel by Fernando Montes Vera came into being after being selected as the winner of the Dakota Prize for Best Novel by the unanimous decision of a jury composed by Pola Oloixarac, Romina Paula and Oliverio Coelho.

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Libros

La última

Las últimas ocasiones son siempre tristes. Sobre todo cuando la ocasión se sabe final. La cosa se estira, se pide más café y otra vez la cuenta hasta que los saludos se multiplican en la puerta y es hora de decir adiós. Propongo, pues, extenuar esta última reseña y multiplicar las recomendaciones hasta que los caracteres exigidos por esta hermosa revista enmudezcan mi entusiasmo.

Con La cadena del desánimo, Pablo Katchadjian ratifica una de las premisas teóricas de Reinaldo Laddaga: toda literatura aspira a la condición del arte contemporáneo. Efectivamente, después de engordar el Aleph de Borges y ordenar alfabéticamente el Martín Fierro, Katchadjian compone su última “novela” íntegramente con citas de cuatro periódicos a lo largo del 2012 hasta el día previo al 7D. Lejos del mero gesto, la sucesión de citas provoca una suerte de trance que hipnotiza al lector de manera opuesta a cómo lo hacen los medios masivos: el montaje desnuda no sólo la mediación sino la construcción de lo “real”.

La obra de Katchadjian es un perfecto ejemplo de past, concepto acuñado por Juan José Mendoza en su obra Escrituras past: una mezcla de pastiche y paste (copy-paste) que opera sobre el arte del pasado reconfigurándolo, recontextualizándolo y, por ende, reapropiándolo.

Mejor que ficción, editado por Jordi Carrion, recopila las mejores crónicas de autores latinoamericanos entre las cuales podemos leer cómo Pedro Lemebel narra visceralmente el asesinato de un travesti; Alberto Fuguet retrata a un “díler digital” de películas piratas; y Juan Villoro cuenta algunas particularidades del Japón, alejado de su D.F. nativo.

Me quedo sin caracteres pero no los necesito porque de la calidad de Alejandro Rubio no hace falta decir nada, sólo de su cantidad: toda su obra poética reunida en un solo tomo, La enfermedad mental. ¡Inestimable!

Reseña publicada en La Nube Canning – Número 7

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