luni, 28 februarie 2011

i missed Carver

I missed Carver. His stories and what they meant for me. All that atmosphere. All that me.

Kindling, What Would You Like To See? and Dreams are some of Carver's uncollected short stories. I don't know why but I am always afraid to say things about Carver. Maybe because his prose lets us have our personal and intimate interpretations. And thus I'm afraid of showing too much of myself. Or maybe because of my 'fiasco' with Cathedral [well, I didn't see it as a fiasco, but my professor sure did :))]Whatever it is, those who read Carver's short stories and know how minimalist fiction works hopefully can understand me.

For those who haven't read this kind of fiction (like Hemingway, Carver and, why not, even Tomas Rivera's Y no se lo trago la tierra), in minimalism (whether it's in design, music, visual arts or literature) everything appears in its fundamental features. There are, for instance, short stories that are two pages long and still they can move mountains. One word can trigger numerous impressions and feelings. It's more or less how stream-of-consciousness functions: an event in the present generates an avalanche of memories. Like Proust's madeleine, only this time it can be a word or a simple, natural sentence.

And to show you all these in action, in the preface of the volume containing the uncollected fiction and prose of Raymond Carver (entitled after the short story Call If You Need Me), Tess Gallacher wrote "Endings, where Ray always worked hardest, were, in some instances, left as one leaves a meal when the phone rings. We simply let those last moments reverberate, allowing the story to come to rest."

And now let's take a glimpse at some endings: "Then he put the pen down and held his head in his hands for a moment. Pretty soon he got up and undressed and turned off the light. He left the window open when he got into bed. It was okay like that." (this one's from Kindling)
"'That's too bad. I'm sorry to hear it. You gave them the keys, didn't you? We've said good-bye. I guess we can go now.'
'Yes', I said. 'I guess we can'." (What Would You Like To See?)

Just like that 'cause 'just like that' is how life really is.

duminică, 13 februarie 2011

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Julia Alvarez's novel mirrors the coming of age of four girls, who need to find their own voice, something between TRADITION and MODERNITY, the Island and Los Estados Unidos.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is great not necessarily because it portrays life both in the Dominican Republic and USA, but because of its structure. We may say that the novel is an entire flashback. It renders moments, events, episodes that lead to the girls' loss of 'accent'. It begins with some events from 1989-1972 (the 'present', when the girls are grown-ups), then goes back to their first years in USA (1970-1960) and the last part deals with the time before their departure (1960-1956). Each chapter has one (or more) focalizer, which is a sort of temporary narrator. But when it comes to the chapters that have more than one focalizer, then we have the same event seen from different perspectives. For example, the chapter entitled Daughter of Invention is merely about the girls' mother and the focalizers are Mami, Papi, Yoyo. When Yoyo tells the story, the girls's mother is referred to as Mami, but when she or her husband tell the story she becomes Laura. Apart from being a mother and a wife, she is a woman and one who emancipates, who fights for her independence and who is slowly Americanized.

Some have said that Yolando (or Yoyo) is closer to the author and even resembles her due to her fondness for writing. In the end of the novel Yoyo (or is it Julia Alvarez?!) states her literary creed: "There are still times I wake up at three o'clock in the morning and peer into the darkness. At that hour and in that loneliness, I hear her, a black furred thing lurking in the corners of my life, her magenta mouth opening, wailing over some violation that lies at the center of my art."

Alvarez's transition from the Dominican Republic to the United States was difficult; critic Silvio Sirias comments that she "lost almost everything: a homeland, a language, family connections, a way of understanding, and a warmth." (

sâmbătă, 12 februarie 2011

y no se lo trago la tierra

"And the Earth Did Not Devour Him". Tomas Rivera.

Let's face it: we all need America. We need it economically, politically, culturally. But, THANK GOD!!, we need differently.
On the one hand, for Iraqi people, for instance, (and to some extent for Romanians) the American way is the best way! On this account, we are more than lucky that Americans are generous enough to give us lessons of democracy, freedom and acceptance.
For Canadians, on the other hand, America is a national ‘phobia’, their purpose being to become as different as humanly possible from their neighbours: “Canadians do not want to become Americans. This is what created us in first place, this desire not to be American, and it is a sentiment that is getting stronger, not weaker.” (Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, p 111)
For Latinos America is a dream. A dream that can become a successful story, or, on the contrary, one that can easily turn into a nightmare. Successful stories of Latinos in America are celebrated in films, books, blogs, song, TV shows etc. But so are the 'nightmares'.
A very good example of fiction (due to its different and intricate structure it is difficult to call it a novel) that portrays the harsh existence of Latinos in America is Tomas Rivera's And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. There are stories of different Latinos that are skillfully intermingled and combined together by the consciousness of one boy, a boy who experiences, in the end of the 'novel', an epiphany: "He had made a discovery. To discover and rediscover and piece things together. This to this, that to that, all with all. That was it. That was everything. He was thrilled."
A detailed portrait of a Latino community is what Rivera managed to illustrate in his book. A community of the victims. A literature of the victims. Victims who, despite all adversities, never stop hoping.

"I would like to see all of the people together. And then, if I had great big amrs, I could embrace them all, I wish I could talk to all of them again, but all of them together. But that, only in a dream." Or in fiction!