Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Invitation to a Dream Library

"He watched Henry eat, his smacking jaws and lively eyes, and compared this new face to the one he remembered as a boy: his father, who spent the war years smuggling dangerous books out of the library before the censors could destroy them. Here, at this very bar, Nelson's old man had revealed his secret treasures: pulling from his briefcase Trotsky's theories on armed insurrection, or a hand-printed booklet containing eulogies for Patrice Lumumba, or a chapbook of Gramsci's outlandish poetry."

--Daniel Alarcón, At Night We Walk in Circles

In my meta-anthology I wrote, about an Alarcón story, "Whether this inspires me to go out and read the just published novel of which it is a portion is yet to be determined."

Obviously, now it has been determined.

The passage I quoted above leaves me wondering, Did Gramsci actually write poetry, and are there any chapbooks of it?

Regardless of what the factual answer is, I want to live in a world where the answer is yes, and for the duration of reading this book, I am allowed to.

This passage is not what predisposed me to like this novel--the predisposition formed much earlier, on the epigraph page with Guy Debord and Eugene Ionesco. Nor is it the passage that hooked me: That was the second sentence, beginning "The read the French surrealists, and improvised adaptations of Quechua myths...."

But this is the passage that whispered in my ear to say, "¡Quédate! You're not going anywhere until we're done with you."