Friday, February 15, 2013

A brutal nostalgia

The second life, as everyone knows, always comes with the inconvenient obligation to correct the first one.

And later,

And then he confirmed the feeling I'd had earlier: one of the consequences of the second life was a brutal nostalgia, the notion, so very democratic, so universally accessible and at the same time so surprising, of time lost, even though we might have suffered more in that time than in the present.

I'm reading The Informers, by Juan Gabriel Vásquez — a much denser read than I'd expected, though it's only just over 300 pages. Not hard, but weighty. The narrator is slowly unpacking his relationship with his father, and his family's relationship to its community. Neither memory nor history is entirely reliable; accuracy, let alone truth, is elusive.

The setting is Colombia, a country with a politically convoluted history, and the story told here essentially starts with Jewish immigrants at the onset of WWII. Weighty.


Life likes to outdo itself.


Gregory McCormick said...

I thought this book was really interesting and, in fact, did a piece on it a few years ago for Quarterly Conversation.

I liked A History of Costaguana even better...

And in August Vasquez has a new one (translation) out of his book which won the Premio Alfaguara de Novela a couple of years ago...

He's definitely a writer to watch...

Isabella K said...

The first I heard of Vasquez was when he was scheduled to appear at Blue Met last year -- I was really disappointed when he couldn't make it, but I came away with this book. I'd started reading up on him and came across your article then, Gregory. I'm not halfway through this novel, but already really look forward to the new one.