Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dublinesque by Enrique Vila Matas

Dublinesque by Enrique Vila Matas (2012, translated by Ann Mclean and Rosalind Harvey, 320 pages)

Dublinesque by Enrique Vila Matas  (Barcelona, Spain, 1948) is about a sixty year old retired owner of a publishing house, a two years sober alcoholic, married with no children and still very much the child of his 85 year old parents.   He is very upset over what he sees as the end of the Gutenberg Era which he thinks the increasing popularity of e books is bringing about.   This is very much a book about a very cultured man who has lived a life centered on books.   He was also an alcoholic for much of his adult life.  He speaks or reads no English but he is very into Irish literature, especially Beckett and Joyce but he talks about John Banville and Colum McCann also.

He always wanted to publish a great masterwork but he never did.  He decided he will go to Dublin and much of the book is devoted to him thinking and talking about this trip.

There are a number of very good book blog posts on this work which a book blog search will find. Everyone declares it a great work.    I wanted to really like this book but I found I was at best OK with it.  Here are my reasons, which are to a good extent exterior to the merit of the book.  I do not especially like novels, short stories, movies or TV shows about alcoholics or drug users.   This is a personal prejudice and I acknowledge it as such but I was bored listening to the narrator talk and think about how much he wished he could have a drink.  Also I think, and it is an often expressed view, that saying the growth of E-Readers is somehow a terrible thing that will lead to the ending of reading or is the start of a new dark age is one of the dumbest phoniest silliest debates around and the narrator seems to think it is going to happen because of e-books.  This made me see him as a self serving person with no real love for literature.

I enjoyed parts of this book but I do not endorse purchasing of it.  I know there are those who will think I am totally off in my remarks or cannot see pass my prejudices about drinkers and drug users and that it OK. I felt like telling the narrator, OK let me buy you a shot of Jameson at Temple Bar and then you can go look in some of the book stores on Grofton Street and then you can look at the hundreds and hundreds of ways E-readers and tablets are enriching the reading world when you sober up in the morning, and Oh yes your wife called and wants to be sure you are not drinking again.


Séamus Duggan said...

This one is high up on my wish list. Shame you didn't get as much from it as others seem to have but that's taste.I'm a sucker for books in which books play a large part so this should be up my street. And I have no problem with books about alcoholics, just not so hot on them in real life.

Mel u said...

Seamus, maybe I over reacted. Most everyone liked it more than I did

@parridhlantern said...

As with Seamus this is on my list for the coming year, although I agree about your comment concerning E-readers

Mel u said...

Parrish Lantern-most everyone liked this book more than I did-if I did not like it i think it was because I had no patience with the constant talk of the lead character wanting a drink and his mourning what he sees as the end of the Gutenberg era. These issues are unrelated to the literary merits of the book, for most anyway