Authors Archive

René Daumal and the Science of Imaginary Solutions

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At the age of 16, soon-to-be writer, editor, and translator René Daumal decided to inhale carbon tetrachloride. Deliberately inhaling carbon tetrachloride is generally a bad idea, but Daumal did it anyway because he wanted to “see,” to hover between life and death in order to understand both more fully.

Daniel Saldaña París’ Among Strange Victims Is the Book You Need in the Post-Trump-Visit-to-Mexico Era

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Of all Mexican novels to read in this post-Trump-visit-to-Mexico era, Daniel Saldaña París’ Among Strange Victims reigns supreme. Not that it’s an overtly political novel, but it is one that explores the unbearable absurdities of living in this world.

The Impact of Expat Writers in Uncertain Times: Patrick Leigh Fermor

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The year was 1944. Special Operations Executive officer Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor, having spent a year in Cairo, returned to the occupied island of Crete to kidnap a German general. The incident would come to be known as the Kidnap, or Abduction, of General Kreipe.

On Not Reading My Grandfather: The Playwright Alberto Adellach

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My grandfather’s work has always loomed large in my mind, made mysterious by its inaccessibility. I never learned to speak Spanish, not fluently, not well – though I maintain the vocabulary of a toddler. Hace calor hoy. Mi color favorito es azul. The “I” centered statements of basic need.

The Inaugural Poem under a Trump Presidency: An Adynaton

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If Mr. Trump were to win the November election, all sorts of interesting questions arise: Would he ask someone to write and read an inaugural poem? Would the writer have to get the poem cleared by Trump? Most interesting of all, though: would the poet accept the invitation?

Juan Villoro’s “The Guilty” Decenters What It Means To Be Mexican

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Last month I found myself in the gardening section of a German supermarket where, on sale, I came across Mexican-themed cacti. Tiny, impossibly hairy things with googly eyes and black moustaches and pastel colored sombreros made of clay. Typical German kitsch. “That looks like my uncle Mario,” I thought.

Divine Inspiration: Letting Dante Lead Me

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When I arrived in Florence for an extended trip, I was determined not to look like a tourist. I wanted to carry a leather-bound notebook and sit at sidewalk cafes drinking cappuccinos and looking thoughtful. Mostly, I wanted to read The Decameron and the last two books of The

Looking for Cavafy in Istanbul

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When I first set out to find C.P. Cavafy’s maternal home five years ago, my friends and I figured heading to the local church in Neochori (present day Yeniköy) would yield the best results. The Alexandrian Greek poet had spent three years of his life, from 1882 to 1885,

How to Seduce Your Man if Your Man Is Michel de Montaigne

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New York City has as many events as event list-serves, and a person who subscribes to a bajillion of the latter can find ways to attend the former for a reduced rate, if not for free. Just such a person, I often attend these events alone, scribbling notes for

Macedonio, Argentina’s Man of Letters

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Most long-dead literary circles have unsung heroes, authors who were important when they were alive but have since fallen through the cracks of history for one reason or another. Macedonio Fernandez is one such figure—he is now almost completely unknown outside of his native Argentina, and even in Argentina