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Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Norman Rush
The Unknown University
Roberto Bolaño, Laura Healy
Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960 (20/21)
Amy Hungerford
The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter - César Aira, Chris Andrews, Roberto Bolaño In a moronic attempt to get a jump on my 2111 Reading Challenge, I opted for the slimmest title on my TBR list—a novella of 87 pages that should have taken only moments from a day spent reading other people’s reviews and wishing I had more time to read the books they’ve reviewed. Speaking of other reviews, much better ones for An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter are to be found here and here. I suggest you immediately leave off this more mediocre and humdrum musing and devote your attention to those.

Landscapes—aren’t they the paintings that graced the walls of hotel rooms prior to the arrival of pastel impressions that compliment the barrenness of rooms neutered in their standardization and into which they provide the only sources of color? Landscape artists? Landscape artists? It’s unthinkable. Unless, of course, one thinks of what Cormac McCarthy can do with a landscape, or Thomas Hardy, or César Aira:
Peaks of mica kept watch over their long marches. How could these panoramas be rendered credible? There were too many sides; the cube had extra faces. The company of volcanoes gave the sky interiors. Dawn and dusk were vast optical explosions, drawn out by the silence; air-shafts voluminous as oceans.
(Dammit, Jimmy beat me to the punch with that quote, but it bears repeating) Maybe there was a point behind all the references to the sublime (a Longinus-tudinal study? that can't be right) in those Lit classes of so long ago.

Now, if your indulgence persists, consider a landscape filtered through a mantilla (read the book, you’ll see why it matters). One person’s lacy mantilla is a matter of discretion and self-effacement; for another, it’s a work of needlecraft, art and display. For some, a mantilla filters what’s beyond it, for others it filters what’s concealed inside or beneath. For some, art is an imaginative creation mediating the real and the real.

Finishing this book and writing this review (such as it is) leaves me wondering—4 stars or 5? It’s not one I’d recommend whole-heartedly for any and every reader. It is one I’d recommend whole-heartedly for some readers. If you’re one who likes artists writing about art and other artists, read it. On my profile I’ve said the difference between 4 and 5 stars is that I liked a book and that I read it at the right time. I read this one at the right time, and I’m going from this to more by this author (yeah, it’s another slim volume—one of NDP’s Pearls—a series or collection that bodes well for me as I’ve yet to be disappointed in NDP).