A Brief History of Portable Literature by Enrique Vila-Matas

By Enrique Vila-Matas

A reader's fictional journey of the artwork and lives of a few of the good 20th-century SurrealistsAn writer (a model of Vila-Matas himself) provides a quick "history" of a mystery society, the Shandies, who're keen about the concept that of "portable literature." The society is fullyyt imagined, yet during this rollicking, intellectually playful e-book, its participants comprise writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, guy Ray, and Georgia O'Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in residences, resorts, and cafes in all places Europe to debate what nice literature quite is: short, now not too critical, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in desk bound submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe.

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My grandparents were encouraged in their entrepreneurial endeavors by Grandmothers younger sister—Kousalova her married name was—who lived in Novy Bydzov and kept a stall at the local market. Grandmother’s baskets were marked with the initials AV (Albina Vydrova). When we were children, we enjoyed playing with expired waybills, which were known as “avisos” at the time. We got them from a woman we called the “aviso lady,” a thirty-five-year-old widow who would bring them from Ostromer on her bike and whom Joska Rehak and Tonda Gabriel once saw in Obora Woods making love with a stranger in a railway uniform.

Had left the camp and gone to the Hungarian theatre in Kiralyhida, where they were giving a Hungarian operetta. The leading roles were per­ formed by buxom Jewish actresses, whose fabulous distinc­ tion was that when they danced they threw their legs up in the air and didn’t wear either tights or drawers, and for the greater gratification of the officers they shaved themselves underneath like Tartar women. If the gallery got no grati­ fication out of this, all the more fell to the share of the officers of the artillery, who were sitting down in the stalls and had taken with them to the theatre their artillery field glasses for this beautiful spectacle” (The Good Soldier Svejk [London: Penguin Books, 1974], p.

He was also, to use a word in vogue at the time, a madcap. 3. 1. She took active part in the activities until she was married; afterwards she was merely a contributing mem­ ber. The songs she used to calm me down or put me to sleep—songs I have often found running through my un­ conscious, like “Raspberry Bush with Leaf So Broad,” “Adam Had Full Seven Sons,” “Siskin, Siskin, Little Bird,” “Water Flowing, Water Ebbing,” or “Down Fell My Sword from Black Stallion”—were all Sokol songs. The stallion song always made me cry, but I never stopped begging for it.

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