This week Three Percent is serializing Margaret Schwartz’s introduction to The Museum of Eterna’s Novel. I think this is well worth checking out, as Museum has to be one of the most interesting, most difficult new books I’ve seen in a while.
“Difficult” gets thrown around way too often by critics (for instance, all those books Franzen called difficult: not really so hard), but in the case of this book I think it’s justified, as Fernandez was really trying to create a form that hadn’t existed before. The result isn’t really approachable from the traditional angles that most readers are used to. Or, as Schwartz says:
He would labor over the book for the next twenty-seven years, producing five full manuscripts in total, the first of which was written out in longhand by his lover, muse, and companion, Consuelo Bosch. Although The Museum of Eterna’s Novel eludes categorization, its many prologues and self-conscious use of authorial persona often lead to its characterization as an example of proto-postmodernism.
I’m not entirely sure that Museum works throughout as a read, although it’s brilliant for stretches. It is, however, the kind of object that should be seen and read, just to see what a book can aspire to and to try and wrap your head around it. It’s tough going, but I do think there are rewards in there.