One example is the word follar, a slang word for the sex act in Spain. The biggest challenges lay in particular word choices that simply do not have exact equivalents in English. Private Life even presents some of the memories Julian would have used in writing this second, more Gazmuri-like book. And: In the story of Emilia and Julio, in any case, there are more omissions than lies, and fewer omissions than truths, truths of the kind that are called absolute. And you are slightly less alone in the universe, because you have been witnessed, because you have been filled, because someone once found words for things within you that you couldn't yourself name — something gesturing not only toward what you are, but what you could become. In the end Emilia dies and Julio does not die. Its digressive structure is wobbly where it should be tight, and its exploration of mature relationships is marred by evasion and sentimentality.
Like a modern Henry Fielding, Zambra makes no effort to disguise his literary devices; rather, he highlights them at every turn. The novella -- and the relationship, and their very lives -- revolve around that one short story they read together, and a variation of which Julio types out in a novel called Bonsai. It turns out to be a weighty lie, because literature binds them, and what binds them can also tear them apart. Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis. Aren't the outlines and outcomes almost irrelevant summary? Lies speed love, Bonsai seems to say, and corrode it.
The cover design draws on photographs taken by my wife, Pamela Harris, on the shore of Cabo Polonio, Uruguay, a historic haven for queer people where much of the book is set. Like Beckett reacting to Joyce, the young writers of Chile, who were born in the 1970s during the military dictatorship and who cut their teeth on the satirical newspaper The Clinic during the newly recovered democracy, have turned from Bolano to the bonsai. Publicado en The Nation, June 17, 2009. Zambra himself fashions a tale from this trend. By then, Bonsai was already being translated into French, Italian and Greek. The words seep right into your mind.
. De Robertis grew up in a Uruguayan family that immigrated to England, Switzerland, and California. In the end Emilia dies and Julio does not die. It's not an entirely original story, of course; that's one of the problems with fiction that relies so much on literature itself. Of course, there were many, many such people in Chile, and it would be a pleasure to see Zambra tackle this material with the dry, nuanced eye he showed in Bonsai.
Su tercera novela, Los Dioses del Tango, será publicada en 2015. In the end Emilia dies and Julio does not die. In Bonsai, Zambra writes that this is a book of ilusiones. In a way, the book is constructed like a bonsai, with little tufts of story that connect in a deeper, trunk-like way. Reading the book a continent away, I would never have predicted such a fuss, though Bonsai is a delightful work. Indeed, although The Private Life of Trees has moments of real sparkle, compared with Bonsai the novel feels tossed off.
Motions which include continuing to read, turning now to the possibly safer classics. Bonsai feels even more derivative because Zambra's entire approach to presenting these lives, and their relationship, reads exactly like what was doing in his early novels -- just with a Chilean spin: At the age of seventeen, Emilia enrolled at the Universidad de Chile to study literature, because it had been her lifelong dream. The more I sank into the prose, the more resonance I found in it. Anita, of course, knew that studying literature was not Emilia's lifelong dream, but rather a whim directly related to her recent reading of Delmira Augustini. If anything, his two novels can be read as accounts of well-off people who lived through the dictatorship and were hardly bothered by it at all.
But they kept going Life doesn't quite imitate art. Translating this book allowed me to come so close to these subtleties that they shone out all the more. De Robertis has been awarded a 2012 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of and. Emilia had sweetly reciprocated the lie. Can you talk about some of the unique experiences you may have had with this particular title? Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole.
That period, when handled at all, is always treated obliquely. The Private Life of Trees also revolves around a struggling writer. Like an actual bonsai tree, the text is finely pruned, so that what is not there seems to speak as much to the whole as what remains present. In , Emilia insists that she will not screw or make love to or much less fuck her new boyfriend; she only wants to follar. They met in a Japanese class. Zambra is, more or less, up to the challenge. And he learned to speak Japanese? Their eyes have been opened, the writing is on the wall, but they fight it, even as they recognise that they're just going through the motions.