Favorite Reads of 2011: My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec

I already mentioned this one in a “favorite reads” post I did for The Millions. My Two Worlds is truly large, and deep, and expansive, even though it’s just over 100 pages long. It felt so new and unpinnable that I had a hard time writing about it, even though I also felt that the book had much in it that could be written about. In my opinion, that’s a sign of something potent.

I eventually did write about it, right here.

My Two Worlds is a dance, a seduction that draws us right up to the palpable center and then fades away to the margin, drawing one back toward that center before fading into another marginal space – back and forth, round and round. It is that same haze of thought one feels when hovering around an idea that remains unelucidatable. Yet the book is merely Chejfec’s thoughts over the course of a walk. It is two hours of serpentine meditation, that same maddening dart and weave between significance and insignificance, transcendence and babble.

The best description for the book – one that might also be suitable for Sebald – is to call My Two Worlds a fragmentation of gazes. As with Sebald, mundane objects play a central role in provoking the narrator’s curiosity: the action of the book gets underway when, looking at his map and preparing to make his trip to the park, the narrator becomes fixated by “the great green blotch, as I called it.” On the map he sees “a small black 9 printed at the heart of the park . . . it strengthened my resolve to visit the park.” These are just the type of everyday, slightly obscure details that might become the object of anyone’s irrational fixation, giving the book an odd realism.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. My Essay on My Two Worlds The Critical Flame has just published my essay on Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds. Here it is. My Two Worlds is a dance, a seduction...
  2. My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec I agree, this is a great book. I'm currently attempting to write something somewhat lengthy and (somewhat) intelligent about the connections between Chejfec and Sebald....
  3. Favorite Reads of 2011: Crash and Remainder Let's start this off with something a little different: Crash by J.G. Ballard and Remainder by Tom McCarthy. I pair them because Remainder is obviously...
  4. Favorite Reads of 2010: Prose by Thomas Bernhard If you come to my house and look at my bookshelves, you can very quickly and easily distinguish the gods from the demigods and lesser...
  5. Favorite Reads of 2010: About a Mountain by John D'Agata My reading divides into 3 kinds of books: 1) the books I just don't care for; 2) the books that are pleasing but ultimately forgettable;...

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