the contextual life

thoughts without borders

Book of the Week: Enrique Vila-Matas’s Dublinesque [Excerpt]

with 4 comments

Dublinesque by contemporary Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas is a surprisingly humorous story about a failed publisher, Riba, living in Barcelona. Rather than admit his company’s demise is attributed to his poor financial skills, he places the blame on the current state of the publishing industry.

Throughout the book Riba makes plans to visit Dublin in order to stage a metaphorical funeral for the printed word, a “requiem for the Gutenberg age”. A review of Dublinesque is forthcoming but until then, enjoy the opening page of this wonderful book. If you’ve read it, please share your comments below. If you haven’t, pick it up now. It’s perfect for a read-along.

He belongs to an increasingly rare breed of sophisticated, literary publishers. And every day, since the beginning of this century, he has watched in despair the spectacle of the noble branch of his trade—publishers who still read and who have always been drawn to literature—gradually, surreptitiously dying out. He had financial trouble two years ago, but managed to shut the publishing house down without having to declare bankruptcy, toward which it had been heading with terrifying obstinacy, despite its prestige. In over thirty years as an independent he has seen it all, successes but also huge failures. He attributes the loss of direction in the end to his resistance to publishing the gothic vampire tales and other nonsense now in fashion, and so forgets part of the truth: he was never renowned for good financial management, and what’s more, his exaggerated fanaticism for literature was probably harmful.

Samuel Riba—known to everyone as Riba—has published many of the great writers of his time. In some cases only one book, but enough so they appear in his catalog. Sometimes, although aware that in the honorable sector of his trade there are still some valiant Quixotes, he likes to see himself as the last publisher. He has a somewhat romantic image of himself, and spends his life feeling that it’s the end of an era, the end of the world, doubtless influenced by the sudden cessation of his activities. He has a remarkable tendency to read his life as a literary text, interpreting it with the distortions befitting the compulsive reader he’s been for so many years. Aside from this, he is hoping to sell his assets to a foreign publishing house, but talks have been stalled for some time. He lives in an anxious state of powerful, end-of-everything psychosis. Nothing, and no one, has yet convinced him that getting old has its good points. Does it?

From Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas. Copyright 2010 by Enrique Vila-Matas.

::[Link]::
Find Dublinesque at an indie bookstore near you 

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Written by Gabrielle

July 12, 2012 at 6:52 am

4 Responses

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  1. Sounds like I need to grab a copy of this. Thanks for the heads up!!

    Kate

    July 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    • so good, i hope you do!

      Gabrielle

      July 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm

  2. […] de Dublinesca en Australia: La vida contextual. CompartirCompartir Esta entrada fue publicada en Voces de la familia. Guarda el enlace […]

  3. Reblogged this on Author, G. D. Grace.

    Author, G. D. Grace

    July 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm


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