IdleRich

IdleRich
Marquez is the soft, twee side of magical realism - the kind that's been copied the most, but stuff like Obscene bird of the night and Cortázar which get lumped in with MR sometimes are a lot harder and darker, totally different kettle of fish aren't they? I've even seen Juan Rulfo (for Pedro Páramo, which is brilliant and terribly bleak in a very Mexican way) and Borges get called magical realism. It's a bit of a bugbear of mine actually.

Not to say Marquez isn't good cos he is, but it's a bit annoying that he's sort come to represent all Latin American literature that has anything in the least supernatural about it.

Keep meaning to have a proper go Vargas Llosa, I've only only read one early short story by him called the cubs (in which a boy gets his knob bitten off by a dog) and that was great, but I don't think it's representative of his work.
I always think that Cortazar and Borges are quite different from Marquez and, say, the Rushdie of Midnight's Children. It's not just how dark it is cos people really do die in the latter type, and I would say Donoso is in that camp too, it's the writing style, it's where the magic resides. One is precise and almost scientific in its neatness while the other is, much more... what? If they were drawings or paintings the first two would be like a diagram drawn with a ruler, the second would be colourful and expressive daubs with oil or something. Not to say either is better, but they feel very different. One is about a view of an almost scientific view of magic emerging from the sheer strangeness of the mind and logic while the other is much more about literal fairy-tale style magic as we imagined it when children.
 

Benny B

Well-known member
Fully agree with that

While we're on the subject, two contemporary Argentinian writers worth checking out if you like weird Latino American stuff are Mariana Enriquez, who leans more towards horror, and Samanta Schweblin who's more in the Cortázar lineage. They've both got the same English translator I think and often get mentioned together.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I think theatre crowds are quite susceptible to shit comedy because everyone's a bit keyed up and nervous on behalf of the actors. Or is that just me?
I definitely feel like that. Even with stand-up comedy - especially with stand-up comedy. Though my friend asked me the other day why I didn't like stand up and I offered that as a reason, and he said "But if you watch a video of the show of some really famous guy you know that they are not gonna die on stage or whatever... basically there is no reason to feel nervous for them" which is a fair point I think. So I don't know if this kinda "feeling nervous for the performer" thing is so deep inside me that it prevents me from enjoying stand up even when there is no risk of that... or do I just hate stand-up on a deeper level and say that as an excuse, lying to myself and everyone else?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Fully agree with that

While we're on the subject, two contemporary Argentinian writers worth checking out if you like weird Latino American stuff are Mariana Enriquez, who leans more towards horror, and Samanta Schweblin who's more in the Cortázar lineage. They've both got the same English translator I think and often get mentioned together.
I don't know either of those authors so thanks for the tip.
 

jenks

thread death
Theatre is communal and I think that when it works things that might not be hilarious alone can become so together.
Some rather sloppy and sweeping statements about the comedies here, as I regularly say- they have to be seen and heard by a cast who can read verse - the best comedies can make those old jokes live. And the original audience? I don’t suppose the groundlings had much of a clue about Shakespeare’s borrowings from Montesquieu or whoever, it’s the actors job to make that understood through word, gesture etc. it is a lived and shared experience- it’s about faith invested in that moment and if we buy into it then magic happens. No different from going to a gig or a club where an ineffable something occurs when we’re in a crowd and we’re taken over - it’s almost holy. Do with that what you will
 

jenks

thread death
Fully agree with that

While we're on the subject, two contemporary Argentinian writers worth checking out if you like weird Latino American stuff are Mariana Enriquez, who leans more towards horror, and Samanta Schweblin who's more in the Cortázar lineage. They've both got the same English translator I think and often get mentioned together.
I really love Samantha Schweblin- particularly those short stories. They really persist in the memory long after the book is back in the shelf - she’s someone who doesn’t use figurative language much (if at all) and that makes her even more uncomfortable to read. No comfort of metaphor or simile.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Theatre is communal and I think that when it works things that might not be hilarious alone can become so together.
Some rather sloppy and sweeping statements about the comedies here, as I regularly say- they have to be seen and heard by a cast who can read verse - the best comedies can make those old jokes live. And the original audience? I don’t suppose the groundlings had much of a clue about Shakespeare’s borrowings from Montesquieu or whoever, it’s the actors job to make that understood through word, gesture etc. it is a lived and shared experience- it’s about faith invested in that moment and if we buy into it then magic happens. No different from going to a gig or a club where an ineffable something occurs when we’re in a crowd and we’re taken over - it’s almost holy. Do with that what you will
It definitely is communal... even if nowadays a lot of that is just getting some wine in the foyer. Something about the whole experience together.
 

you

Well-known member
Good to see @you back.
Just finished Homesickness - I really liked most of it but nothing quite reached the peaks of Young Skins which I re-read recently. I don’t know if you’ve read Wendy Erskine, a writer from Belfast - I’m a huge fan and have seen her read a few times. Both Sweet Home and the new collection Dance Move are great. I’m fact I think she got reviewed with Barrett in a couple of newspapers.

Edmund Gordon reviews Homesickness in London Review of Books Vol. 44 No. 15 · 4 August 2022. I've not opened mine yet as saving it for a journey. Curious to read Gordon's impression.

@jenks - Erskine's stories really got under my skin. How do you feel about the embedded dialect of the protagonists? For example in 'Bildungsroman' p.107 the line 'Use adjectives and all that shit.' It's effective, but there is a part of me that feels it's a little brash. I also, having had some time to digest, wonder if the very 'closed' views she provides are a touch patronising.... 'Bildungsroman' is a little flat... this young man isn't painted with much nuance other than being a clueless teenager. Another writer, another protagonist and I reckon criticism would be drawn.
 

jenks

thread death
I read the review - a bit miserly in places. As for Wendy - I’ll give it a re-read. Did you read the previous collection, Sweet Home? There are a couple of stories in there that deserve to be in any anthology of the last decade of short stories.
 
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you

Well-known member
I read the review - a bit miserly in places. As for Wendy - I’ll give it a re-read. Did you read the previous collection, Sweet Home? There are a couple of stories in there that deserve to be in any anthology of the last decade of short stories.
Sweet Home - not yet. But I certainly will.

By 'very closed' views I thought also of the first story 'Mathematics', a really powerful opener... but the ultra plain logic reminded me of Klara and the Sun (which is about second rate android). And as the foremost method of conjuring another's world-view—a person with learning disabilities mostly likely 'cognitive, cognitive' is recalled as what is said at a school assessment— I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with the authors decisions - because, like Klara, the view/voice control is achieved by narrowing, by refusing detail somewhat, by imposing a simplicity. I'm not sure that's fair. Or at least it is skirting at a limit. 'Cell' I have similar feelings... the protagonist is clearly oblivious to what is going on around her... but there is a line in there where she voices 'the mobile phone'. The definite article felt a little heavy handed. To return to 'Bildungsroman' the line ‘He found a picture of a topless woman who looked over thirty. So fucked already dunno if I am even gonna make it to da work! Fuck dat anyway life is for da living.’ felt a little unsubtle.

Yet this same acute vision and use of dialect works so well in the eponymous story, 'Dance Move', to portray an 'uptight' and narrow minded mother in contrast to her daughters. E.g. p.76 'That decking had been put down by Kate's dad. That made it worse.' When she watches them practicing overtly sexual dance moves in the garden.
 
@jenks - Erskine's stories really got under my skin. How do you feel about the embedded dialect of the protagonists? For example in 'Bildungsroman' p.107 the line 'Use adjectives and all that shit.' It's effective, but there is a part of me that feels it's a little brash. I also, having had some time to digest, wonder if the very 'closed' views she provides are a touch patronising.... 'Bildungsroman' is a little flat... this young man isn't painted with much nuance other than being a clueless teenager. Another writer, another protagonist and I reckon criticism would be drawn.
I think the dialect is handled well, not overdone. I haven't read in order, but im through most of them now. Memento mori and His mother really got me, they get across the strangeness of grief and how it can twist people. his mother felt very close to home, my mate's family went through an uncannilly similar thing. I get what you mean with the potential for patronising, and was a little sensitve to that line to line, but didn't leave that trace overall. I suppose you risk that when handling these kinds of relationships and dynamics within a short story.

Got Homesickness for my dad and loved the one about the shooting, will read the rest when I'm next back
 

jenks

thread death
Erksine taught my ex media studies. 'She was sound' is all the info I have
Yes, I’ve seen her read a couple of times, the second time at the Social there were a number of her ex students there. I bet she’s a very sound teacher.
 

jenks

thread death
Sweet Home - not yet. But I certainly will.

By 'very closed' views I thought also of the first story 'Mathematics', a really powerful opener... but the ultra plain logic reminded me of Klara and the Sun (which is about second rate android). And as the foremost method of conjuring another's world-view—a person with learning disabilities mostly likely 'cognitive, cognitive' is recalled as what is said at a school assessment— I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with the authors decisions - because, like Klara, the view/voice control is achieved by narrowing, by refusing detail somewhat, by imposing a simplicity. I'm not sure that's fair. Or at least it is skirting at a limit. 'Cell' I have similar feelings... the protagonist is clearly oblivious to what is going on around her... but there is a line in there where she voices 'the mobile phone'. The definite article felt a little heavy handed. To return to 'Bildungsroman' the line ‘He found a picture of a topless woman who looked over thirty. So fucked already dunno if I am even gonna make it to da work! Fuck dat anyway life is for da living.’ felt a little unsubtle.

Yet this same acute vision and use of dialect works so well in the eponymous story, 'Dance Move', to portray an 'uptight' and narrow minded mother in contrast to her daughters. E.g. p.76 'That decking had been put down by Kate's dad. That made it worse.' When she watches them practicing overtly sexual dance moves in the garden.
I’m not sure I feel the same. I work with lots of young men who do talk and think like that. Also lots of layers in there about the difference between the fantasy - whether it be the supposed glitz and glamour of free and easy sex online, the computer games violence, YouTube videos of executions against the reality - shitty jobs, kids on dialysis, lowly ambitions, real life middle age women not actually being milfs, and the ultimate reality of a weapon.
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
@jenks ta for the Pogue Mahone pick, ooooph

dense to put it lightly, committed to lunch breaks where I can squeeze a hard 45mins in, incredible story telling and keeps putting my old Gaelic to the test

the narrow text format is utterly spellbinding and McCabe captures the onset of age related dementia on the nose, its circular themes, reaching back in time to the 70’s commune house in Kilburn with all its era-ridden cliches, Mike Yarwood and the craythur itself

no idea where it going but, given he’s already killed one man, sure the last section dropped in that Daniel Fogerty himself might be unborn/born less

a riot
 

jenks

thread death
@jenks ta for the Pogue Mahone pick, ooooph

dense to put it lightly, committed to lunch breaks where I can squeeze a hard 45mins in, incredible story telling and keeps putting my old Gaelic to the test

the narrow text format is utterly spellbinding and McCabe captures the onset of age related dementia on the nose, its circular themes, reaching back in time to the 70’s commune house in Kilburn with all its era-ridden cliches, Mike Yarwood and the craythur itself

no idea where it going but, given he’s already killed one man, sure the last section dropped in that Daniel Fogerty himself might be unborn/born less

a riot
It’s a brilliant high wire act. The insistent push of that voice is quite something. And it is dark as fuck while being silly funny too. Glad you’re enjoying it.
 

you

Well-known member
I’m not sure I feel the same. I work with lots of young men who do talk and think like that. Also lots of layers in there about the difference between the fantasy - whether it be the supposed glitz and glamour of free and easy sex online, the computer games violence, YouTube videos of executions against the reality - shitty jobs, kids on dialysis, lowly ambitions, real life middle age women not actually being milfs, and the ultimate reality of a weapon.

The acute world-view of some of Erskine's stories I'm not entirely comfortable with, I don't think there is a clear issue, and I'm probably looking for faults too much.... I just have some nagging reservations. I adored her stories at the time and now questions are coming back to me. Which is a good thing.

With regards to dialogue... I think she gets it just—just— about right (whatever right is). But I can see other writers attempting the same approach, and it coming off horrendously, I think it could go hideously wrong.

I read Edmund Gordon's review. It is miserly. I really enjoyed the quietness of Homesickness, the subtlety. And the anecdote about the hotel reception was a stand-out instance of poignant ambiguity, not a let down. Gordon seamed to yearn for a bit of action. I didn't miss that. My favourite story in Young Skins was the one about the boy necking lager on the garage roof doing not much else.
 
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