Thursday, November 16, 2006

A literary guide to Chile

A few months ago Salon published a literary guide to Chile by the writer Ariel Dorfman.

In his customized survey, Dorfman focuses first on the poet Pablo Neruda, then gets down to discussing other authors:
If you haven't had enough of Neruda, then you can discover him again as a character in Antonio Sk√°rmeta's masterful The Postman (1985), where the illustrious bard befriends the eponymous postman of the title and teaches him how to woo an elusive damsel with metaphors and a pinch of politics. This novel not only will enchant and entertain readers (I like it more than the 1994 film, "Il Postino," that it inspired) but also will offer a glimpse of Chileans' peculiar sense of humor, corrosive and light, self-deprecating and ferocious.

That sense of humor is also present in Chile: A Traveler's Literary Companion (2003), though what distinguishes this excellent anthology of short fiction edited by Katherine Silver is that each selection by many stalwarts of Chilean literature opens a vista onto a distinctive zone of Chile: Read Francisco Coloane, for instance, on the seas off Patagonia (where Herman Melville set Ahab's quest for Moby-Dick) or Hernan Rivera Letelier and Roberto Ampuero on the haunted inhabitants of the northern deserts. Or Marta Brunet's terrifying Black Bird and its suggestion that Chilean nature is not always as benevolent or glorious as I have implied.
Several other books make the grade for Dorfman; click here to read the rest of the essay.

Other items in Salon's literary guide series include:
A literary guide to Alaska
A literary guide to Washington, D.C.
A literary guide to Vancouver
A literary guide to Baltimore
A literary guide to Argentina
A literary guide to Afghanistan
A literary guide to Louisiana
A literary guide to Australia
A literary guide to Norway
A literary guide to Turkey
A literary guide to Japan
A literary guide to Martha's Vineyard
A literary guide to West Texas
A literary guide to Togo
A literary guide to Brooklyn
A literary guide to Miami

--Marshal Zeringue