[Note: I changed the picture because so many people got pissed off about it. Here is a nicer photo to look at.]
Dear HTML Giant Universe,
Have you heard of René’s Flesh by Virgilio Piñera? If you haven’t, don’t feel bad. I only heard about it a few days ago. Then, I read it. And I am obsessed. Piñera was a huge Cuban writer, among the likes of Reinaldo Arenas, Jose Lézama Lima, and Alejo Carpentier. And yet, I’d never heard of Piñera. If I had an iron memory, I’d know that he was a character in Before Night Falls, but I don’t have an iron memory.
A few days ago, a friend of mine put René’s Flesh in my hands, an exchange because I’d told him about 2666. He said, If you like Bolaño, you’ll love this book. Despite having my ever-growing stack of books-to-read-and-review, I put my trust in this friend. I read the book in 24 hours. I took five baths, snuggling in the warmth of water and the titillation of this book.
This book: a fairy tale without magic. There is no magic, but in its absence: pain. Lots of it. The pleasure of pain, the torture of pain, it gave me nightmares from which I hoped to never wake.
April 25th, 2011 / 12:59 pm
My room overlooked the cemetery. It was sunny and peaceful. In summer the paths twinkled like brooks of milk. In the fall they were thickly bricked with gold leaves. All winter grackles quarreled among the tombstones. Beyond, low hills and copses dissolved into country roads, a chicken farm, a highway. Kate and I visited the farm; we admired the two-headed chicks suspended in alcohol and carried home double-yolked eggs. We walked the forbidden highway all the way to the gas station café where we savored the thick exhaust of trucks and like the logger in the song stirred coffee with our thumbs. But the place we especially loved was in the woods behind Kate’s house, a cluster of elms felled by lightning, a clutter of naked trunks sprawling like lovers shipwrecked in sleep. The dead trees were our treasure hunts, our highways to planets haunted with the moonmen of our minds. Even now I dream of trees carved into the painted likenesses of our games, the totems of childhood. Even now I recall a crystal gazebo and the smooth walls of a fictive corridor better than the room I slept in last night, the face of the man I slept with.
– from The Smallest Muttonbird Island in ‘The Complete Butcher’s Tales,’ pg. 107