At long last, the prose of Osvaldo Lamborghini has made it to English, wrested and wrestled from the realm between the unquestionably literary and the in-poor-taste, between high and low, between… you get the idea. While one can find the roots of Lamborghini in Lautréamont, in Carrington, in Breton, he arrived at his own, sui generis kind of hell, guns blazing against everything stolid or stale, uniquely unencumbered. I’m not certain that there is anyway to truly prepare oneself for Lamborghini. In the introduction to our slim volume, César Aira tries:
The first and last question that arises before his pages, before any of them, is: how can a person write so well? I believe there is an outer reach of aesthetic quality—past the simulacrum of perfection—that may shine through in good prose. In Osvaldo there is allusion to true perfection, which eludes labor. It is rather facility, a kind of automatic writing. Amid his papers, there is not a single rough draft, there are no corrected versions; in fact, hardly anything is crossed out. Everything came out right from the beginning. There were no birth pangs. Or there must have been, but they no longer remained in evidence. I have tried to explain it to myself, working from the posthumous discovery of the verse original of Sebregondi retrocede, as an oscillation-translation. That veneer of perfection so very his could be explained perhaps as the effect of a virtual translation: neither prose nor verse, nor a combination of the two, but rather a passage. There is a poetic archeology in the prose, and vice-versa; a double inversion, the trace of which is to be found in what many have seen as the most characteristic aspect of Osvaldo’s style: the punctuation. But then, he himself has said: “As far as a poet, bam! A novelist.”(translated by Adrian Nathan West)
Roberto Bolaño gave another take in his excellent essay, “Vagaries of the Literature of Doom”, telling us that “The unsuspecting reader may glimpse a sadomasochistic game typical of those writing workshops that charitable souls with pedagogical inclinations organize in insane asylums.” (trans. Natasha Wimmer). In any event, he is here, and you can make your judgements for yourself. Chris Via, who runs an excellent YouTube channel of book talk/reviews, has already uploaded his impressions here.
You may also find some useful context in the inaugural edition of Firmament, which includes an additional three poems by Lamborghini, translated by Luis Chitarroni, as well as an interview with Agustina Pérez, one of the best known Lamborghini scholars, and a tremendous advocate for his work.
This weekend, in fact, translator Jessica Sequeira and I (Josh Rothes… hi!), will be joining Agustina and the novelist Ariel Luppino in conversation (en español). More details will be released this week on Twitter @lamborghiniOL.