Tag Archives: Daniel Alarcon

What to Read in August

The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes: “This astonishing memoir was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nearly a decade after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.”

The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarrett Kobek: “When Adeline, a wealthy art student, chances upon a young man from the Midwest known only as Baby in a shady East Village squat, the two begin a fiery friendship that propels them through a decade of New York life. Riotously funny and wise, The Future Won’t Be Long is an ecstatic, propulsive novel coursing with a rare vitality, an elegy to New York and to the relationships that have the power to change—and save—our lives.”

After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus: “Rich girl, street punk, lost girl and icon… scholar, stripper, victim, and media-whore: The late Kathy Acker’s legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, created mostly by Acker herself. Twenty years after her death, Acker’s legend has faded, making her writing more legible.In this first, fully authorized, biography, Chris Kraus approaches Acker both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which she emerged.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Miranda K. Pennington and Philip Boehm, review Since I Laid My Burden Down and Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, and probably talk some shit about Jonathan Dee’s new novel.

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Lost in the Big Picture

At Night We Walk in Circles

I first learned about Daniel Alarcón in The New Yorker’s collection of 20 authors under 40. His story in the collection, “Second Lives,” chronicles the disparate paths of two brothers, the older of whom moves from their South American country to the United States, while the younger is left behind to feel trapped in his own home. The younger brother, Nelson, is the main character of Alarcón’s newest novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, which takes place years after the short story and was published in October. It’s receiving heaps of well-deserved praise. Alarcón has been the recipient of a PEN USA award, a Guggenheim fellowship, and is a former Fulbright scholar to Perú. At Night We Walk in Circles is his third book.

I met Alarcón at the 2012 Aspen Summer Words festival. Their theme that year was “Solazú,” an invented word used to summarize the idea of celebrating stories from across Latin America and the Carribean. Alarcón was one of the speakers, sharing the stage with Francisco Goldman, Edwidge Danticat, Luis Urrea, Gioconda Belli, and others. Later, after the panels on homelands and violence, I stepped into a hallway in the Hotel Jerome Bar to find Alarcón staring at an old newspaper that was framed on the wall. The newspaper was from the day of a famous event, the moon landing or V-J Day, but he was looking at one of the small columns near the bottom of the page. He pointed to it, then motioned me over.

“This is a short story,” he said. “I wish I knew what happened here.” The column was something absurd: a man robbing a hospital, or something like that. It was missing all the important details, the whys and the hows, leaving the decades-later reader to fill in the blanks on their own.

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