DublinesqueBook | Enrique Vila-Matas By Damian Van Denburgh
Employing a captivating blend of fiction, autobiography, and literary criticism, Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas has written a number of critically acclaimed books that tend to focus on writers who don't actually write so much as think about writing. His latest novel, Dublinesque, is focused on Samuel Riba, a publisher who is no longer publishing since having retired, and who is at a loss as to how to proceed with the rest of his life. Faced with questions about his dubious future from his doddering parents and his wife's worries about his ability to stay on the wagon, Riba defiantly declares that he is in fact off to Dublin to deliver a lecture on the death of "serious" literature and the demise of the printing age - none of which is true. Coordinating his trip with Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses, Riba is actually setting out to bury his past, see if he can reclaim his future, and find out if a disturbing dream he had that was set in Dublin was actually a premonition. Riba's lack of direction and dithering ways, while initially amusing and even at times moving, quickly become a liability, and Dublinesque develops a stifling, stagnant quality that it can't shake - and that's quite out of character with Vila-Matas' other, more spry works. Vila-Matas is a writer well worth investigating - but don't start here.
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