March 7, 2013
Enrique Vila-Matas on Lars Iyer’s Spurious
by Kelly Burdick
Last year Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas penned a column for the Spanish newspaper El Pais that praised Lars Iyer’s literary manifesto “Nude in your hot tub, facing the abyss.”
Now Vila-Matas is back, again in El Pais, with a rave review for Iyer’s first novel Spurious, which has just been published in a Spanish translation by José Luis Amores (Pálido Fuego) under the title Magma.
Surely because Vila-Matas is much loved around the world, Daniel Rivas chimes in here with a “quick and dirty translation” of the review, which begins:
The fact that there is a crisis does not mean that we must continue being anachronistic realists when we dedicate ourselves to literature. Or that one must devote prizes to those who comport themselves well; that is, to those who are serious and who reproduce, copy and imitate reality without wishing to see that, in its chaotic evolution and monstrous complexity, reality is ungraspable and, what is more, literally not narratable.
In case anyone wishes to escape this national obsession, I propose that we take a stroll towards humour; towards the tragicomic satire offered to us by Magma, the first novel by professor of philosophy at Newcastle, Lars Iyer. It is translated by José Luis Amores and published by Pálido Fuego, and is a potent jeer at the usual nonsense that dominates the “literary life” of our time.
In Magma, two present-day intellectuals journey through a Europe in which literature has become just another product of the market, something seen as interesting, distinguished, worthwhile and respectable, but also somewhat insignificant. The two characters, Lars and W., drink together and share an immense mutual affection which they display through insults, an art they practice ingeniously, as though remembering what Nietzsche said: that in one’s friend one shall have one’s best enemy.
Read the full review here. And if you are on a real Iyer kick, read this great interview from The Spectator or watch the below clip of Iyer at the Franklin Park Reading series.
Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.