THE DIARIES OF EMILIO RENZI by Ricardo Piglia

THE DIARIES OF EMILIO RENZI

The Happy Years
by ; translated by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Continuation of the late Argentine novelist and scholar’s revisitation of the country of his youth.

Happy years? Piglia’s (1940-2017) alter ego wades into the 1960s a touch less confused than in the predecessor volume, Formative Years (2017). He plans, carefully, meticulously, his budding career as a writer, worrying in one notebook entry about his chances for success: “And what if the best thing I have ever written, the best thing I will ever write in my life were these notes, these fragments, in which I record that I never manage to write the way I would like to?” But those notebook entries, telling stories within Piglia’s larger story, are more effective than a larger framing narrative might be, announcing themes and introducing characters who turn up at odd moments. One of those themes is Renzi’s constant self-scrutiny, which sometimes threatens to become circular: “I have recorded here a substantial though incomplete part of my daily activities,” Piglia writes, “which, due to those same occupations, I can’t always record in this diary.” A figure who pops up from time to time is the legendary writer Jorge Luis Borges, evoked in a story about a duel fought by two men near a drug store so that, according to Borges, “they could be treated”; getting off a bus, Renzi later spots Borges on a Buenos Aires street: “I see him passing and call his name, and he pauses a moment and smiles toward me.” While engaged with the likes of Lacan and Sartre, Renzi mostly confines his political engagement, in a time of rising authoritarianism, to making notebook sketches of cops-and-robbers stories and questioning “the autonomy of literature, or rather, the illusion of autonomy in literature"; his resistance is subtle, though real. One wonders whether the next volume, set in the time of the generals, will see more direct involvement with the world outside Renzi’s study.

A significant work of modern Latin American literature by a writer too little known.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63206-198-0
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Restless Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2018




MORE BY RICARDO PIGLIA

FictionMONEY TO BURN by Ricardo Piglia
by Ricardo Piglia
FictionTHE ABSENT CITY by Ricardo Piglia
by Ricardo Piglia
FictionARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION by Ricardo Piglia
by Ricardo Piglia

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionCATERVA by Juan Filloy
by Juan Filloy
FictionTHE ABSENT SEA by Carlos Franz
by Carlos Franz
NonfictionIN MY MIND'S EYE by Jan Morris
by Jan Morris