According to Nathan Hamilton, there are two general modes in UK & US [fiction] ... one is a product-focused aesthetic, the other is a process-based approach. The product-focused aesthetic relies on clarity of context, presenting self-contained, more or less complete thoughts and evincing a concern for descriptive accuracy when considering the external world. It is, to caricature slightly, occupied with realizing recalled events, sometimes through memory's distorting effects, while keeping failings of language under discursive control. This is often also called 'mainstream.’ Its weakness is that it can rely too heavily on rhetorical commonplaces, or conceits, and can easily feel naively decorative to the more philosophically concerned, or sentimental or even redundant in its efforts to describe the outside world convincingly. The process-led approach ... is concerned with [fiction] as a way of speaking about the world that simultaneously presents the difficulties of doing so. To the young contemporary ear, being too 'product' in approach can end up sounding pompous or over-wrought; old hat. Too experimental or 'process' focused can seem solipsistic and, again, but differently, over-wrought ... So, we have a popularizing neo-surrealist ironic school in evidence, growing out of a collision between the 'product' and 'process' approaches outlined; a [fiction] of the absurd, ironizing, meaning-making, which in fact one can find moving and meaningful, allegorically.
When Pablo Neruda wrote, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming,” he was not thinking about our current problems. He was thinking in universal terms. So we must transcend the idiocy of the moment and trust the inevitability of hope as well. Let the light of hope bring us our Spring.
He wrote lies, mainly, not because he wanted to deceive anyone, far from the truth, but because he thought that reality was as much a lie as any good fiction. He absorbed reality as it undressed in front of him. He took it all deep inside his mind and body. But somehow he found it questionable, not entirely truth-worthy, even when reality screamed and flapped its arms. He was suspicious of the way life needed to convince us of its gravitas. And with certain disdain for anything real, he wrote prose that took flight, a flight as real as any presumptive reality.
"Seven Deadly Sins:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice."
― Mahatma Gandhi
According to Shklovsky, “the purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar', to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception, because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.”
So in these caustic times, given the tumultuous reality we face all around the world, we must create. And it does not matter what we create, but it is imperative to subvert and defamiliarize that which is imposed upon us.
Stop weaving dreams in your mind,
Deja ya de tejer sueños en tu mente,
Arrêtez le tissage de rêves dans votre esprit,
Because the only thing we have,
Porque lo único con lo que contamos,
Car la seule chose que nous ayons,
Of men their song.
De los hombres su canción.
Des hommes leur chanson.
The terms poetry and prose are incorrectly opposed to each other. Verse is, properly, the contrary of prose ... and writing should be divided, not into poetry and prose, but into poetry and philosophy. And what is a contemporary novel to do but to break the narrative boundaries and present the deepest philosophical questions in their most poetic form?
The existence of a book of fiction is a wondrous feat. What are the chances that a herd of words would coalesce in such an order to express the inner feelings of invented lives, to describe places that never existed, to make the reader see what she never imagined? And what if that book delivered you beyond yourself? Just amazing…
There are days when my thoughts are broadcast for all to hear, see, and touch.
"Reality is not always probable, or likely." -- Jorge Luis Borges
Not that he’s guarding my house from danger, but that he hisses at conventional literature. He can sniff the blight and he skips through it. But he would dig into literary narrative with the left paw, with the right, he thrashes traditional expectations. That’s my cat!
With my family, I left Cuba as a political refugee.
I learned English as a second language.
I was the first student in my high school to attend Harvard University.
I did so on a partial scholarship. The rest of the money I needed I earned by washing dishes.
I graduated Cum Laude in engineering (even when my knowledge of English was limited).
I became a physician.
By the way, I paid my student loans in full.
I earned a Masters Degree in Latin American Literature.
I became a psychiatrist in New York.
With the help of federal grants, I advanced the knowledge in the field of adolescent schizophrenia and autism.
I helped thousands of patients in my psychiatric practice.
I earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
I have published two very provocative novels. (More are coming)
And at this stage in my life, I’m very sad about the country that embraced my ambitions.
I recently left the US in search of a more enlightened society.
I'm a fucking immigrant.
"Our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." --William Shakespeare
And I will find the tongues in trees, the books in the running brooks, the sermon in the stones, but above all, the good in everything and everyone.
"This must be the smell of life. I don’t know how else to describe this sensation. So simple, yet so deeply rooted inside my brain. Bread can keep me alive, or maybe I’m alive so I can eat bread. So powerful, so elemental. And it doesn’t matter where I am, what city, what continent. This smell burs inside of me and reaches the core of my existence. More compelling than ecstasy, more potent than fear. I think of bread as the primordial substance. The man makes bread so he can continue to be a man who eats bread. Circular, never ending." --Viator
"In the depths of my heart I can't help being convinced that my dear fellow-men, with a few exceptions, are worthless." --Sigmund Freud
Looking at the world around me, I agree with him 110%.
The 2016 Goethe Medal goes to writer Yurii Andrukhovych from Ukraine. Every year the Goethe-Institut confers the official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany to honour figures who have performed outstanding service to convey the German language and promote international cultural relations. And coincidentally, my review of Andrukhovych's novel TWELVE CIRCLES (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015) was just published by Rain Taxi Review of Books.
"Books aren't made in the way that babies are: they are made like pyramids. There's some long-pondered plan, and then great blocks of stone are placed one on top of the other, and it's back-breaking, sweaty, time-consuming work. And all to no purpose! It just stands like that in the desert! But it towers over it prodigiously." --Gustave Flaubert
"It is certainly true that a criterion for true art, as opposed to its cunning counterfeit, is its ability to take us where the artist has been, to this other different place where we are free from the problems of gravity. When we are drawn into the art we are drawn out of ourselves. We are no longer bound by matter, matter has become what it is: empty space and light." --Jeanette Winterson
So happy to receive advance copies of "Air," my new novel. Coming this September from Spuyten Duyvil Press.
After several years of eating a Mediterranean diet, I decided not to just eat the food, but to live there, at the edge of the very body of water. Not a surprise since I'm only following the tracings of my genetic map. And pierced by the line between the two blues, I will write my best prose.