Hilda Hilst, trans. from the Portuguese by Alexandra Joy Forman. Nightboat, $16.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-937658-84-7
Originally published in 1969, this experimental novel by Brazilian Hilst (With My Dog Eyes) weaves the quest to understand the soul into a spectacle of the written word. The writer Ruiska barricades himself behind a steel door to work, but instead falls into conversation with a dwarf, the manifestation of “everything that comes from beneath within” him. The dwarf confronts Ruiska, accusing him of making up stories because he doesn’t understand his “inner metaphysics.” A different writer takes a more active stance, joining with his pederast brother and lesbian sister to form a “tripartite face in search of its primary identity.” The biblical Lazarus, arriving at “the only monastery left on earth,” is informed that the clergy there have “learned that none of what we desired was within us.” As Hilst shifts from narrator to narrator, her inquiry grows ever more dreamlike. Her “tripartite” narrator is transformed into a unicorn, and then a spider. Another narrator defies even these far-fetched embodiments, proclaiming, “I span my own limits.” Hilst’s immersive prose subverts conventional interpretation, creating instead an evocative experience that answers the need for self-actualization with love of language for its own sake. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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