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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hot Chliean: Newly anoined NYer favor Aejandra Zambra

Alejandra Zambra has pretty much been anointed by the New Yorker as the heir to the South American hot novelist crown, since vacated by the late Roberto Bolano, whom the NYer also "discovered" although it was too late to do him any good; Zambra got high praise from the high priest Jas Wood in a recent issue and I suspect we will see more of his stories in the NYer in weeks ahead. I've read one of his novels and posted on it on this blog - and was very glad to read his story in current NYer, Reading Comprehension No. 1 - which, like many other great Latin American stories, has both a starkly realistic narrative that gives us NA writers a view of life in a very difficult cultural milieu - well, different in some ways and strikingly similar in others, as we're all part of a world culture these days it seems, as one comedian put it, the Judeo-Xtian-Disney tradition, but told within an original and surprising narrative frame. This story starts off conventionally - a young man remembering how he and friends cheated on standardized tests when they were in school, that it was particularly easy to do so bcz they were multiple choice so it was easy to copy or come in w/ crib sheets, and he slyly suggests that this cheating - rather than the knowledge and skills required to succeed on the test, was what truly prepared the students for success in Chilean society. Ha! But sadly true. The narrative goes on to describe to boys, twins, graduates of the school, one of whom did well in school the other not - who later cheated on their law exams (complicated, not worth explaining here) and now they're both successful lawyers, proving the point - story told to the boy by a religion teacher who left the school to become a transit driver, at twice the money - very cynical and burnt out. And then - after we learn the fate of the twins and the narrative in and of itself ends, we get a multiple choice "reading comprehension" exam on the story - very clever, with some rather funny choices such as D. The answer is usually D. and C: I don't understand the question but my benchmate checked C.

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