(Javier Moreno last wrote on the work of Rodrigo Fresan for The Quarterly Conversation.)
I think it is time for me to systematically read William T. Vollman. I’ve been postponing this for way too long. I loved his "Three Meditations on Death" but I’ve never gone beyond that lovely essay (besides some short pieces found here and there). My self-Christmas present last December, thus, included The Rainbow Stories and Rising Up and Rising Down (the abridged version, of course). Yesterday, I read the introduction of the later and it made me recall the pleasure and excitement of reading the "Three Meditations" the first time. After these two I will probably read The Royal Family and Europe Central, and The Atlas, perhaps, if time permits.
Since September I’m living in Lyon, and although my knowledge of French is still quite rudimentary, I’m trying to improve it by reading stuff. French contemporary literature, unfortunately, doesn’t interest me much (One of my last year’s big deceptions was Littel’s Les Bienveillantes. The Spanish translation ("Las Benévolas") was dull and disrespectfully long and dull again) but I’ve noticed that France’s range of graphic novels is amazingly rich. After visiting a few bookstores and libraries I’ve concluded that if anything interesting is happening (excluding Nothomb and Houllebecq) in French lit culture it is happening in a neighborhood of those beautifully edited sixty-something page volumes with double and triple authors, and as far away as possible from the Goncourt prize and the traditional and absurd "rentrée litteraire" (which more or less forces any release to be done in August. In 2008 around 700 novels were released (puked) during that month in France; most, naturally, got lost.) This is the reason I plan to read the more or less classic steampunk series Les Cités Obscures, by Schuiten and Peeters; the surreal (I already started) Le Roi des Mouches, by Mezzo and Pirus, and the vague series of books by Tardi on the First World War.
I’ll also give a chance to Texaco, by Patrick Chamoiseau; this only because I read Junot Díaz somewhere saying that it was an awesome novel.
In Spanish I plan to read some of the novels by the Mexican Alvaro Enrigue. A friend told me this guy is pretty smart. I’m particularly interested in his Vidas Perpendiculares and La Muerte de un Instalador.
After reading some reviews from people I trust, I expect great things of Alberto Olmos’s El Talento de los Demás.
I should also read more stuff by Sergio Pitol. El Mago de Viena and Juegos Florales look interesting, for instance.
Finally, I’ll try to get through Era el Cielo (a guy watches his wife being raped and does nothing to stop it) and La Realidad (an Islamic terrorist cell takes control of a reality TV series) by the Argentinean Sergio Bizzio. I heard they will be published in Spain by Caballo de Troya early this year.