IN spite of what some might think I am still caught up in books and live in a state of actual anticipation. The other day is no exception. A publicist at FSG sent an email reminding me about some book or another and I replied asking if the Roberto Bolano galleys had shown up--- FSG is publishing 2666 in November 2008--- He wrote back saying they had and he'd put them in the mail to me. I called and said could I just walk over as FSG is nearby.
The 18 blocks over there, thinking will there be that awful disappointment... which is always possible...
Next to FSG is Academy Records on 18th Street and for some reason they have a pretty good selection of VHS tapes and WEEKEND was in... for a few bucks... there is a Godard festival coming to NY in a few weeks. I had seen all the Godard films, like anyone actually alive in NY in the 60s 70s-- right down to Vladimir and Rosa--- if you want to know... but anyway up to the 8th floor and the package is waiting.
Do I open it or wait for the street? The circulation department of the New York Post shares the building with FSG and some guys from there got on and one does not want to read with strangers looking on in the intimate confines of an elevator.
So to the street and in the shade as the noise of the city counterpoints, carefully opening, avoiding the staples and then the fat galleys 898 pages: and that first line-- okay a note from the heirs as the book is posthumous then a quote from Baudelaire: An Oasis of horror in a desert of boredom.
A good sign to be sure... but the first line of the novel::: The first time that Jean-Claude Pelletier read Benno von Archimboldi was Christmas 1980, in Paris, when he was nineteen years old and studying German literature. The book in question...
I closed the galleys, carefully put them back into the envelope and walked home through Union Square knowing that I had a reason to postpone suicide for more than one day as we must always keep in mind as Cioran says each book is a postponed suicide and the comfort of knowing that a great book will be my companion for many months... even the annoying fake artists, merchants of political trivia and tourists taking pictures of each other seemed as rich a material as any scene in Chaucer... the shishkabob seller on the other side of 14th Street, the large black woman with the dollar bottles of water in front of the discount shoe store... the pretty girls going into Whole Foods thus endangering their lives because who knows what homicidal maniacs lurk in the aisles of that institution... but in my hand the package containing 2666 Roberto Bolano's last novel... the proper names approximating, the specific dates, age of the boy, the city...those very sharp hooks.
To quote blurbs from my own review of THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES that appeared in the LA Times: The Savage Detectives throws down a great clunking formal gauntlet to the reader's conventional expectations... Only time will supply the adjective great to what is a very good novel.