Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rodrigo Rey Rosa

Rodrigo Rey Rosa was born in Guatemala in 1958. He immigrated to New York in 1980, and in 1982 he moved to Morocco. American expatriate writer Paul Bowles, with whom Rey Rosa had been corresponding, translated his first three books into English. Rey Rosa has based many of his writings and stories on legends and myths indigenous to Latin America and North Africa. Of his many works, seven have been translated into English: The Beggar’s Knife, Dust on Her Tongue, The Pelcari Project, The Good Cripple, The African Shore, Severina, and now Chaos, A Fable.

Recently I asked Rey Rosa about what he was reading. His reply:
When I write fiction—as I am doing now—my reading tends to be more scattered than usual. My general rule is not to read fiction when I’m writing. I read poetry, art history, newspapers and magazines, books on philosophy, anthropology, jurisprudence, but no fiction at all. If I were to read fiction, I’d probably look for something by John Le CarrĂ© that I haven’t read. Or Henry James or Patricia Highsmith. But so far this year, I can honestly say that I haven’t read a single page of fiction. The last novel I started (and abandoned on December 31, 2018) was South Wind by Norman Douglas. I hope to finish reading it someday.

In recent months I’ve read essays by Giorgio Agamben on the art of desecration. Also: Creation and Anarchy: The Work of Art and the Religion of Capitalism. Even in the parts I don’t pretend to understand, Agamben seems to me always brilliant. Also, Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco by Paul Rabinow. The long hallucinatory poem “The Crystal” by Conrad Aiken. Several books by Ernst Gombrich: Art and Illusion; Meditations on a Hobby Horse; The Preference for the Primitive... The mild regret of not having read Gombrich much when I was younger. But I still, especially when I’m writing fiction, learn something.
Learn more about Chaos, A Fable.

--Marshal Zeringue