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Summer 2018 Reading: Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers; José Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night

(For what remains of) This summer, I invite you all to read along with me two books, and comment on them with me here on WordPress/Heteronymy.  The first book is a great roller-coaster of a novel I meant to read back when it came out in 2013, Rachel Kushner’s THE FLAMETHROWERS, which is about New York in the 1970s, a topic of fascination to people who were too young to remember it in real life (and to people like me, who whooshed off to college and barely saw it in real life).  The other book is a bizarre quasi-Surrealist take on a crumbling family and society in Chile in the 1960s, José Donoso’s THE OBSCENE BIRD OF NIGHT (1970), a novel overshadowed by more user-friendly and sentimental Great Big Novels of the Latin American Boom by García Márquez, Fuentes, and Cortázar, but just as great and big.  I’ve never read the Kushner novel; I have only read the Donoso novel in translation, thirty years ago, and am looking forward to giving it the real reading that it deserves.

As we did three years ago when we read David Marcus and Tom McCarthy, we’ll give ourselves page targets and try to get it all done before my semester starts in Oberlin.  Given page lengths, I think that means three weeks for Kushner (383pp.) and four weeks for Donoso (440pp.).  While Todo México was glued to the TV screen this morning I was at the Strand and have purchased my copy of The Flamethrowers.  It looks as though we should aim thusly:
Week One (blog comments on Sun July 1):  Chaps 1-7 (–> p.110)
Week Two (blog comments on Sun July 8):  Chaps 8-14 (–>p.263)
Week Three (blog comments on Sun July 15): finish.
I hope this will intrigue, and of course delight and instruct.

June 23, 2018 - Posted by | boredom | ,

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