Archive for the ‘Carlos Fuentes’ Category


SOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-“Fool Metal Jack” (2013).

Iosmut have known about Os Mutantes for years.  I never knew anything about them (and never really understood their name–although now that I have been working with Brazilian books at work I realize that their name is Portuguese for The Mutants (it was the Os that always threw me off).  I had no idea that a) they’d been around since the 60s and were part of the psychedelic scene or b) that they were still around (after some breakups and with a largely new lineup) or c) that they sang in English (which they do on several songs on this album) or d) that their new album kicked so much ass.

The album is called Fool Metal Jack and it is a fantastic mixture of fast heavy rock, Brazilian traditional sounds, what I assume are Native Brazilian chants and a heavy dose of weirdness.  All wrapped up in an anti-war stance, like on this track “Fool Metal Jack.”

A creepy, distorted  bassline introduces this song which sounds like the guy from Gogol Bordello singing a Tom Waits march.  It’s about a soldier in the middle of a war.  The bridge means more voices come in, bringing in an even more disorienting sound.  And the chorus chanted “Yes.  No More War” completes the song.  By the time the wailing guitar solo comes in the chants of “This is the war of hell” have even more impact.

This stomping song was a great introduction to this band who I now need to explore further.

[READ: April 18. 2013] The Last Interview

I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Last Interview” and since I had always intended to read Bolaño’s I was delighted to see that our library had it.  Bolaño is a fascinating interview subject because you never really know what he is going to say.  There are even serious questions about the veracity of his life story which many people believe he fabricated for more dramatic effect.

But the one thing that is absolutely consistent about Bolaño is that he always praises writers whom he respects (and will trash those he doesn’t, although that seems to come more from the interviewer’s  instigation (not that he needs a lot).    So the last interview that he did is the one from Mexican Playboy which has been collected in Between Parentheses.  But the other three are earlier and, it seems, a little more “truthful” or at least less naughty-seeming.

What’s fascinating about this book is that the introduction by Marcela Valdes (“Alone Among the Ghosts”) is over 30 pages long!  The article originally appeared in The Nation on Dec 8, 2008 (read it here).  As such it’s not an introduction to this book, it’s introduction for English readers to Bolaño circa 2666.  And it’s a great read.  It is primarily about 2666, which Valdes has read many times.  She goes into interesting depth about the story but mostly she relates it to Bolaño’s own experiences while writing the book.  It focuses especially on his research about the real murders.  His interest was genuine and he sought help from a reporter who was doing genuinely decent work (ie. not accepting the word of the state about what was going on).

Bolaño has said he wished he was a detective rather than a writer, which explains The Savage Detectives and Woes of the True Policeman.  But Valdes also points out how almost all of his shorter novels have some kind of detective work involved–seeking someone who is lost or hiding.  The article was really great and is worth a read for anyone interested in Bolaño, whether you have read him or not. (more…)

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literarySOUNDTRACK: CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING-“Burroughs” (2013).

chelsea-light-moving-albumChelsea Light Moving is Thurston Moore’s new band [no comments about the state of Sonic Youth/Kim Gordon will be included in this post].  I don’t know anything about the other members of the band; I’ve not heard of any of them.  “Burroughs” is one of four new songs streaming on the Matador Records site.

The song is spot on for the noisy/sloppy style of Sonic Youth.  Fans of Sonic Youth will certainly detect some differences–the counterpoint of Lee Ranaldo is definitely absent, indeed, the entire low end sounds very different from what SY would create given this song.  But man, if you’re jonesing for some chaotic noise, this song has it in spades.

Moore is capable of creating some traditionally beautiful songs (see his Trees album), but here it’s all about discord.  The song is over six minutes long and the last 3 or so are devoted to some noisy guitars in both chords and solos.

While SY has not shied away from long songs, this song doesn’t feel like an epic–it’s not multi part or “extended” exactly.  It’s a fairly straightforward rock song with an extended solo section.  It’s really great.  I’m looking forward to the whole album (and I love the cover, too),

[READ: March 23, 2012] The Literary Conference

This has been my favorite Aira book so far.  And that’s probably because it is wonderfully over the top, mixing fantasy, sci-fi, genetics and literature.  All in 90 pages.

The story is about César Aira, translator.  He has been invited to a literary conference in Venezuela.  While there, he solves the age-old problem of The Macuto Line.  The Macuto Line is, essentially a rope which is attached to a pirate treasure.  For generations, people have tried all kinds of  things to impact this line–but it has proven to be unsolvable and indestructible.   Aira happened to be staying near the Line in a hotel.  He claims that he is no genius, but it just happens that the elements of his life have given him the exact information he needs to solve the puzzle.  And with a simple touch of the rope, the treasure is his.

But that’s just part 1 and has nothing to do with the rest of the story, really.  For despite his newfound wealth, he will still be attending the literary conference.  Primarily because he knows that Carlos Fuentes will be there (Fuentes is a real person, a Mexican author who died in 2012).  For, you see, Aira is planning to clone Fuentes in his bid to take over the world.  (In addition to being a translator, Aira is a mad scientist). (more…)

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