As part of The Bubble’s series exploring literary local options beyond Borges and Cortázar, here is a pack on some of Argentina’s greatest male writers. Switch the August wintry setting for a while and enjoy, dear bookworms!
Before becoming The Great Fogwill, Rodolfo led quite an ordinary life, until one day he decided that it was high time he stopped being a publicist to become a writer. The sociologist, who had created memorable slogans such as Quilmes’ “El sabor del encuentro”, started writing at the age of 39 after publishing his first book of poems “El efecto de la realidad.” However, Fogwill was far more than a talented writer. He was a rebel, a provocative, a polemicist, a prodigy, a revolutionary, a cocaine addict, a convict. He openly picked fights with distinctive national characters such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and other writers including Beatriz Sarlo, Ricardo Piglia and Alan Pauls due to his controversial ideas on abortion, drugs, sexuality and marriage laws. Fogwill wrote the greatest book ever written about the Malvinas war, “Los Pichiciegos” in one week. Unfortunately he died in 2010 at 69 years old. The best we can do to honor his legacy is to read him.
JUAN JOSE SAER
According to writer Beatriz Sarlo, Juan José Saer was the greatest writer from the second half of the XXth century. Not only was he so acclaimed for his super refined literary style, but also because he established his own and unique literary zone: there was somebody finally ready to get away from the pre-established Borgean conventions. Saer has never been a very popular author; ordinary readers are afraid of reading his books as not everybody is always ready to embark on such an odyssey. But the ones who are courageous enough to trespass that fence claim that he is a truly addictive writer. Sarlo recommends to start with “Cicatrices” (Scars): “It is one of his first novels and although it is definitely not his best book, it clearly shows his writing style.” What is striking about Saer is his originality, the way he played with conventional writing traditions and the literary proposal he offered to the Argentine canon. Some of his best pieces were produced between the 70s and 80s and include “El limonero real” (The Real Lemon Tree), “Nadie nada nunca” (Nobody, Nothing, Never) and “Glosa.”
“The great monster of the Argentine Literature”, that is how critics and devoted readers call the writer who passed away last December. Reading Laiseca is not an easy job, you never know what to expect, how to define his writing style or where to trace his literary traditions. He had an extraordinary imagination and heroism, but ordinary readers turned their backs on him and only a small group of admirers followed him blindly, the very same who claim that he is the founder of a new unprecedented genre: realismo delirante. He took ten years to write the colossal “Los Sorias” which, as he had claimed, included thirty thousand more words than Ulysses by James Joyce. Among his greatest books, one can find “Aventuras de un novelista atonal”, “La mujer en la muralla”, “Matando enanos a garrotazos” and “El gusano máximo de la vida misma”. Laiseca also participated in two films both directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat: “Querida, voy a buscar cigarillos y vuelvo” which he wrote himself and “El artista.” Highly admired by César Aira and Roberto Fogwill, Laiseca was the mentor of several contemporary writers such as Selva Almada, Juan Guinot and Sebastián Pandolfelli.
Although he is a translator, writer, journalist, literary critic, and proofreader, Rodrigo Fresán claims to be mainly a great reader. Fresán, who is now based in Barcelona, decided he would become a writer at the age of four. His desire, love for literature and obsession turned him into one of the most acclaimed Argentine writers of the last century. His fictional world can basically be regarded as meta – literature: it goes back to the genre just to show the reader the writer’s alter – ego, his mind, and his literary cannon. His writing style is complex, challenging and cluttered with cultural nods to Kubrick, Fitzerald, Batman and Pink Floyd. The author of “La parte inventada” (The Invented Part), argues that in an era numbed by audiovisual bombing the job of literature is to preserve the cultural, literary and artistic style. In “La parte soñada”, which is part of the trilogy initiated with “La parte inventada” and that culminates with “La parte recordada”, the writer explores the foundations of sleep, creation, invention, insomnia, and memory.