cover image My Two Worlds

My Two Worlds

Sergio Chejfec, trans. from the Spanish by Margaret B. Carson, intro. by Enrique Vila-Matas. Open Letter (Longleaf, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (102p) ISBN 978-1-934824-28-3

Lean, thoughtful, and keenly observed, the Argentinean Chejfec's first work translated into English packs a great deal of insight into 102 pages. The narrator, an unnamed Argentinean writer, wanders a city in the south of Brazil. He is a great enthusiast of walking, going so far as to claim that it saved him, although from what he's uncertain: "maybe from the danger of not being myself... because to walk is to enact the illusion of autonomy and above all the myth of authenticity." Recently, however, the act has become less meaningful%E2%80%94or perhaps less mysterious%E2%80%94to him. He seeks out a park "too large not to have the air of abandonment which so appeals" to him. He is self-conscious, worried about being ignored, and sure he's being judged; that the judgment of others remains opaque bothers him. Of ultimate concern, finally, is that walking has stopped giving him real insights. The book he's brought with him doesn't interest him nearly as much as boats shaped like swans, the meaning of time, or any number of other observations rendered in fascinating detail. Carson's magnificent translation of Chejfec's latest work should be treated as a significant event. (Aug.)