Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas

Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-MatasRoberto Bolano, the most famous and feted (deservedly) of recent South American authors, describes Vila-Matas as “A writer who has no equal in the contemporary landscape of the Spanish novel.” Whilst one must assume that this is meant as praise, this novel, his supposed masterpiece, doesn’t seem to do anything much. According to the blogger John Self this is “One of the most pleasurable and joyous novels of the year”. But the constant banging on about places the author knows nothing about, but which haunt his imagination, and then banging on and on about novels and stories he’s obsessed by – James Joyce’s Dubliners and Ulysses, as well as Samuel Beckett’s novels – leaves me cold. Whether he assumes a knowledge of these texts in the reader or not, he doesn’t add anything to them, and the novel goes nowhere discernible, other than the central character’s head, which isn’t as interesting as the head of other literary solipsists such as Saul Bellows’ Hertzog, or that presented in Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground.

Mr A


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