Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oblivion Oblivion Oblivion

This spring I read the collection of short stories entitled The Cannibal Night by Mexican author Luis Jorge Boone, expertly translated by George Henson. These stories reminded me about what was best about magical realism, although I might rather classify them as magical hyperrealism or magical expressionism. In each, the narrative participates in its own undoing as characters are left making the most of their diminished worlds. Here is something I wrote about one story simply titled "Oblivion."
“Oblivion” seems to be written precisely as a puzzling meditation on translation. Not only does a senseless car crash deprive the protagonist’s life from meaning, not only does this meaningless act literally come crashing into her world, but as readers we’re confronted with the destruction wrought by this very word itself: oblivion. The protagonist senses some inalienable significance to this term that she is incapable of discovering despite her methodical attempts to translate it from its English into her Spanish. Repeated throughout the story as a mantra bereft of meaning—Oblivion. Oblivion. Oblivion.—until the word becomes true avoidance and obscureness of memory, of pain, of forgetfulness and the subsequent oblivion that time provides by reasserting meaning upon that life that lives on through oblivion as oblivion. Eventually the shibboleth takes on the verbal quality our heroine ascribes it, dissolving the wreck and her response to it as well as the text itself into pure illegibility. Boone’s story is both a refraction and a deflection of narration—a surface phenomenon upon the story’s setting, its theme. “Oblivion” marks the untrackable traces of language’s impossibility to both provide and not provide meaning to our experiences.

No comments:

Post a Comment