Nonhuman Collectives

— a blog by Craig Epplin —


I wrote a review of the latest Bolaño translation, A Little Lumpen Novelita. Of all his work that I’ve read, this novelita reminds me most of Roberto Arlt’s fiction. I only began to touch on this in the review, but I think there’s a very clear line between a work like The Savage Detectives and A Little Lumpen Novelita. The first is Cortázar-style encyclopedic–that long list of avant-garde writers that stretches over a couple pages–while the second is pure Arlt: boxing rather than literature, scribbling at meals (before or after a day’s work) rather than typing through the morning (before heading out for a stroll).

Late Book Culture in Argentina

Today is the US publication date of this book. It’s a study of experimental writing and small press publishing in contemporary Argentina, placed in the context of transformations in our media landscape. The first half of the book traces a genealogy of engagement with the medium of the book, with chapters on Osvaldo Lamborghini, César Aira, and Eloísa Cartonera. The second half focuses on morphological engagements with the book by Estación Pringles, Sergio Chejfec, and Pablo Katchadjian.

It’s an expanded rewrite of my dissertation, and as such it feels like it’s been a long time coming. I’m really happy to have it finally out in public.


This post does not contain photographs of food–just a link to a short reflection I put up on Medium. I had never used it before, and I had been thinking about cupcakes, so it seemed there was no better time.

More DF

Over at Feedback, I just posted a short review of a couple new or newly translated books about Mexico City–one by Francisco Goldman and another by Valeria Luiselli. It’s exciting to be reading such excellent books about the DF, where I’ll be working for a few weeks starting next week. I’ll be looking at old maps in archives and listening to sounds in the Fonoteca, among other things. I’m sure I’ll buy more books than I can carry and will have to ship them back separately. And I’ll be rereading The Savage Detectives, not so much for the “being there” aspect of it, rather to prep for my fall grad seminar on Bolaño and Mexico.

Further dispatches will follow.

Doctored photos – DF

I stumbled upon this project that overlays images from the days of the Mexican Revolution with the present-day, Google-drawn geography of Mexico City. I’m more impressed with the continuity of built space rather than the differences.

Via Revista Nexos

Via Revista Nexos

Al Jarreau

I spent a long weekend in Chicago for the Latin American Studies Association conference. It left me with lots to think about, and I’ll post in the next couple days with some thoughts. For now, though, here’s this, Al Jarreau performing “Take Five.” Few things in the universe are better.

Gabriel García Márquez

The first short story I read in Spanish was “La luz es como el agua.” I was in high school and my teacher passed me a photocopy of it. I remember underlining, looking up all the words I didn’t know, learning words like brújula, which made little sense in my landlocked childhood but which, I remember observing, sounded like the word for witch and rhymed with esdrújula.

I remember reading Cien años de soledad in college while abroad in Venezuela. I remember buying El general en su laberinto in a Caracas bookstore. I remember where in the bookstore it was and that it was wrapped, as is so often the case, in plastic. I later wrote an honors thesis about that novel. It was the first time I engaged seriously with some the questions I teach about today: the relationship between literature and history, literature and politics, Latin American intellectual culture and my life.

Over the years I somewhat lost interest in García Márquez. His sentences and paragraphs are too perfect, too resonant and pouring forth: bubbles in the air blown not by children but by some fantastical machine. It’s a dumb reason to lose interest, maybe, but it’s true. Still, I taught “La luz es como el agua” in a class the other day and grew nostalgic for the high school kid who first pored over a dictionary trying to understand that story. And I’m nothing short of delighted to discover, today, this profile of Shakira that he first published in 1999. (I learned lots of Spanish from her CDs also when I was in high school.)



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