Álvaro Enrigue [ Read ] Muerte súbita

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Muerte súbita

Lls of the time Across the ocean in Mexico the last Aztec emperors play their own games as conuistador Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover La Malinche scheme and conuer fight and fuck not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the course of history And in a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More’s Utopia and thinks that instead of a parody it’s a manualWorlds collide time coi. 45 With its scenes of Caravaggio and Spanish poet uevedo playing a hungover tennis match using a ball stuffed with Anne Boleyn s hair in lieu of a duel over some slight no one can remember Counter Reformation popes scheming and receiving gifts of exuisite iridescent New World featherwork and Cort s and Malinalli La Malinche in bed and an attempt to create Utopia which or less worked resorting to synopsis is the most obviously attention grabbing ways to open a review of this book Sudden Death is one of those po mo antinovels of bits and pieces tangentially related historical fictions are interspersed with excerpts from centuries old treatises a few of the author s autobiographical musings and how I wrote this book ness and games like a series of emails with his editor which he is not given permission to publishbut they re here and they couldn t have got here without it Some such books including one I ve been reading recently The Physics of Sorrow jump and meander along arbitrary streams of consciousness but Enrigue has created a highly organised example I can t really do better than Lee s metaphors for the structure and reading of Sudden Death but the discrete nature of most of the chapters excepting the very last few where paragraphs from different stories begin to blend resembles reading a series of articles open in different browser tabs dealing with a few different topics of interest skipping from one subject to another to avert boredom Relationships and motifs begin to build up between the articles although they were not originally created to be read together Except these were A working knowledge of sixteenth century history Western Europe Central America will make this a less challenging read than it may be without most main characters would be familiar albeit not everything they do Some of it s just made up other events are the kind of salaciousness and specialist detail not found in yr avg general survey textbook and might be juicy finds even for some seasoned historians In one of his commentary chapters Enrigue states all novels even the most chaste are a tiny bit pornographic This is not the most chaste of novels One feels a little embarrassed on behalf of Galileo in particular were those extravagantly bawdy sexual opinions amusing though they are to some readers and implying experience of congress with livestock anything to do with his real self Though in best early modern fashion Enrigue couches those smutty lines within a beautifully poignant scene one that hints at the fluidity of romantic friendships between some intellectual men of the era The book helped resolve uestions remaining after a small historical debate with a friend some time ago Was the conuest of the Aztecs ualitatively different from most other acts of colonialism given their extremes of human sacrifice and torture To what extent was it comparable to overthrowing the Nazis I wondered what Latin American peoples non historians thought were certain European methods of killing at that same time in history horrifying because alien And what might it feel like to be descended from Aztecs Do they have any role in assertions of indigenous identity One contemporary Mexican author in his forties obviously doesn t speak for everyone but he clarified a certain amount For once history was just a particularly bloody realm reduced to a single barge Though that didn t mean the good guys had won The good guys never win Outside of the Holy Roman Empire s triangle of influence the conuistadors must have been perceived by the majorities that surrounded them as a tribe with an inevitably superior technology of death but also with less of a thirst for blood than the previous occupants of Mexico s imperial capital Not that the recent arrivals were humanists on a mission to improve anyone s life but at least they didn t make sacrifices to frenzied and glamorous gods lovers of spectacle and gore like none before or since Their sacrifices were to a bland and pragmatic god called money statistically lethal than the four divine Tezcatlipocas put together but also slower in its means of causing harm If in 1521 the nose of Hern n Cort s s horse marked the furthest reach of the Holy Roman Empire by 1538 the Aztecs were already as lost and mythical a people as the Atlanteans or the Garamantes and their genetic material lay at the bottom of Lake Texcoco or had been circulated for the last time through the lungs of those who breathed in the smoke of the huge piles of bodies burned after the fall of Tenochtitlan We Mexicans aren t descendants of the Mexicas but of the nations that joined with Cort s to overthrow them We re a country whose name is the product of nostalgia and guiltAlthough evidently a handful of Aztecs survived late in the book appears Huanitzin and his son a nobleman skilled in the art of featherworking who made among other treasures a mitre gifted to the pope that is also handled by Caravaggio elsewhere and decades later in the bookMost curiously the Aztec language had a character almost opposite to its speakers terrifying reputation Mexican Spanish at times so disconcerting and easy to misinterpret gets its warmth and courtesy from Nahuatl the gentlest and most gracious of tongues an airy bird like form of speech When someone from Madrid or Montevideo walks into a room he says Permiso and that s it In contrast a Mexican erects a syntactic edifice so complicated that it reuires both a negative clause and a verb in the conditional If it s no trouble might I come in It s not that they re sappier or sentimental than other Spanish speakers it s just that Mexican Spanish is crisscrossed with the scars of Nahuatl In our mental hard drives the file of the mother tongue still opens at certain prompts even though it s been two or three hundred years since we spoke itHuanitzin s attempts to speak Spanish result in much punning confusion Translator Natasha Wimmer also responsible for putting Bola o into English must have worked some kind of transposingrewriting magic here It would be fascinating to know what the original wordplays were as they don t translate directly at least according to my school Spanish Cort s asked Huanitzin what else he needed in order to pay tribute to the emperor Shoes he replied What kind asked the conuistador imagining that he must be cold and want woollen slippers Like yours said Huanitzin who being an Aztec noble and a featherworker considered a provincial suire turned soldier to be of a class beneath his With cockles Cockles asked Cort s The Indian pointed to the captain s instep festooned with a golden buckle and inlaid with mother of pearl Buckles said the conuistador shoes with buckles What an elegant double reference to shells The featherworker shrugged his shoulders If you need anything let me know What could I possibly need I don t know a handsome peasant to take to the pope A peasant To flail him as a sign of our devotion No one touches His Holiness Of course that s why he s pope but I m sure his bishops flail him Hail him That s right flail him Not a handsome peasant the padre continued to provoke him Why He s a man of God Huanitzin he must be eighty years old It s a matter of coming up with the right peasant Huanitzin concluded wrinkling his brow and fingering the scanty beard he might better have shaved How can you think of a peasant for the pope A nice one answered the Indian Then unperturbed he bid the bishop goodbyeEven funnier in context given various antics of clergymen and noblemen with young men that precede this in the novel I very much like this intriguing UK cover I go for geometric designs anyway and this is essentially one made from 3D objects wonder if the designer made them in reality not only on a screen they look very solid they are the waddingcotton insides of old style tennis balls bound in regular patterns with thread before receiving their final outer leather covering For as described in the book it was only in some places in the sixteenth century not everywhere the sinister and decadent fashion to make tennis balls from the hair of the executedI can t uite fathom why this didn t feel like a 5 star book whilst reading it sure as hell sounds like one whilst writing it up That elusive whatever it is just wasn t there enough of the time or maybe I was simply tired With the right combination of subcultural and academic interests you might fall in love with it on the first page for bringing such things together in a single sentence In 1451 Edmund Lacey Bishop of Exeter defined the game with the same suppressed rage with which my mother referred to the falling apart Converse I wore as a kid ad ludum pile vulgariter nuncupatum Tenys There are a few bits of untranslated Latin and Italian most near the beginning Enrigue often says what the book isn t but afterwards it comes together as a novel of living history I recommend writing about it than most books I ve read reviewing made sense of it in my head and isn t only a way of trying to describe it to others The tennis match doesn t seem directly relevant to structures of the modern world unlike the political history or the explanations of which public buildings now stand where Aztec edifices once did but its physicality the descriptions of play really fire off the mirror neurons I could feel the actions just as I would if watching tennis on TV and its witty playfulness meshes with the rest to allude to a literary mood of the times of its setting Rabelaisian Shakespearean Yet the presence of tennis arguably references that recent po mo literary institution Infinite Jest someone should write a review comparing the two as tennis novels whilst on a completely different scale the ultra short chapters in Sudden Death are moulded to the twenty first century idea of the internet pruned attention span or commuter read modern buildings for which the old invisibly provides foundations Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher Harvill Secker Penguin Random House UK from whom I received an advance copy in exchange for an honest reviewFurther uotes in the status updates

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Ls traditions break down There are assassinations and executions hallucinogenic mushrooms bawdy criminals carnal liaisons and papal dramas artistic and religious revolutions love and war A blazingly original voice and a postmodern visionary Álvaro Enrigue tells the grand adventure of the dawn of the modern era breaking down traditions and upending expectations in this bold powerful punch of a novel Game set mat. I m not exactly sure what I just read but that s okay because the author doesn t know either As I write I don t know what this book is aboutHah I told you Although in the first instance anyhow it s about a tennis match It s not exactly about a tennis matchHey stop that Maybe it s just a book about how to write this book maybe that s what all books are about A book with a lot of back and forth like a game of tennisBe that as it may there is a tennis match that takes the whole book to complete And while an imagined event it certainly seemed real enough The only real things in a novel are the seuences of letters words and sentences that make it up and the paper on which they are printed What they produce in a reader s head are private and uniue landscapes of objects in motion that have only one thing in common they don t existBut the Italian painter Caravaggio and the Spanish poet uevedo are the ones playing the tennis match which yes may be imagined but the players are real It isn t a book about Caravaggio or uevedo though Caravaggio and uevedo are in the book as are Cort s and Cuauht moc and Galileo and Pius IV Gigantic individuals facing off All fucking getting drunk gambling in the void Novels demolish monuments because all novels even the most chaste are a tiny bit pornographicLike that chapter about the clitoris that changed the world The sole duty of a writer is to minister to his readers to liberate them from inexactitude out of respect for the mysterious and touching pact of loyalty they make with books When something is clear to a writer I think it s fair to ask him not to obscure it but when something is unclear I think it should be left that way The honest thing is to relay my doubts and let the conversation move one step forward readers may know better Which is to say the nothing of the ball Tennis is turns out is an old sport It s all there I know because I googled Thomas Moore wrote about it Shakespeare too Students of Caravaggio included rackets in paintings But the ball oh the ball It seems they were filled in part by hair sometimes human hair The author fills this ball with hair from Anne Boleyn shorn before she uh lost her head Consider this your invitation to a beheading That s how the erstwhile ueen gets in the story Andy Warhol appears but in a cameo role Michelangelo Merisi we know took the name Caravaggio after the city in which he was born The author jokes It s as if Andy Warhol had signed his serigraphs Pittsburgh Hern n Cort s has a prominent appearance If in 1521 the nose of Hern n Cort s s horse marked the farthest reach of the Holy Roman Empire by 1538 the Aztecs were already as lost and mythical a people as the Atlanteans or the Garamantes and their genetic material lay at the bottom of Lake Toxcoco or has been circulated for the last time through the lungs of those who breathed in the smoke of the huge piles of bodies burned after the fall of Tenochtitlan We Mexicans aren t descendants of the Mexicas but of the nations that joined Cort s to overthrow them We re a country whose name was the product of nostalgia and guilt There was in other words no demagogue to keep us out Sorry to keep bouncing back and forth like this but I have to share this sentence If Saint Sebastian in all his arrow pierced ecstasy hadn t become the patron saint of gay culture it s likely that Hyacinth would today be the emblematic mythological figure of male homosexuality There s a lot of things in that sentence that I didn t know so much so that I went googling again especially because the author points us to the painting The Death of Hyacinth by one of Caravaggio s studentsIn the original myth Apollo friend and lover of Hyacinth was training him in the stadium arts when he tossed him a discus with divine strength kind of like Superman and inadvertently killed him Apollo wept so much at what he had done that he transformed Hyacinth into the flower that bears his nameI have no opinion on the apparently heated debate about who should be the patron saint of gay culture But I will point you as the author did me to the accoutrements Note that Apollo is holding a tennis racket And look what s underneath Hyacinth That s no discus Cort s s serve again Back in Mexico There are few better illustrations of how a whole host of people can manage to understand absolutely nothing act in an impulsive and idiotic way and still drastically change a course of history Which brings me to the featherwork miters made by Mexican artists and worn by Roman popes Game Set Match

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Sudden Death begins with a brutal tennis match with the bawdy Italian artist Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet uevedo battling it out in Rome before a crowd that includes Galileo Mary Magdalene and a generation of popes who would throw Europe into flames In England Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII execute Anne Boleyn and her wily executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought after tennis ba. Sudden Death by Alvaro EnrigueA book that s hard to classify but I think it s mostly a historical novel told in vignettes or less tied in with the history of early tennis Mostly the time frame is during the Renaissance lets say the 1400 s and 1500 s and the counter reformation of the mid 1500 s Tennis and tennis balls and tennis slippers are freuently mentioned in Shakespeare s plays Human hair used to be used to stuff tennis balls The story starts off with a man named Rombaud supposedly the executioner of Anne Boleyn who accepts her hair as payment for his services He then has her hair used to stuff tennis balls and sells the balls for a fortune There are a lot of good reviews out there so I ll keep mine relatively brief The main characters followed that is those around whom the vignettes are focused are the Italian painter Caravaggio the Spanish poet Francisco de uevido Hernan Cortes Hernando Cortez to us older folks and his wife and a daughter who returned to Europe and some of the popes such as Pius IVA lot of the story is focused on a supposed tennis math between Caravaggio and uevido The narrative like a tennis match goes back and forth back and forth in alternating stories We go back and forth geographically as well as we go from Spain to Rome to Mexico City to England and the vignettes give us bits and pieces of the story The author gives us fair warning that not all things are true But we have to figure out which ones I consulted reviews from The Guardian the NY Times and The Harvard Review to give me an idea of the relative truth of some of these stories Although hair and sometime human hair was used to pack tennis balls in this era there s no evidence that Anne Boleyn s hair was used in balls after she was executed And her supposed executioner a Frenchman named Rombaud is fiction History does nor record her executioner s name And it s fake news that Andrew Carnegie bought one of the Boleyn tennis balls and donated it to the New York Public Library where it remains today So reader beware Some of the vignettes are about art The use of hair in tennis balls provides a segue to hair used in artwork such as scapulars made in Mexico for Cortes from the hair of an executed Aztec emperor and the iridescent bird feather art of the indigenous Aztecs and Nahuatl We are told correctly that the indigenous art was turned toward religious artwork and that seven such miters as they are called survive today in museums This is true and we are even given a list of the seven locations Tennis gives us another segue this time linguistic how some Nahuatl words made they way into Spanish and how tennis metaphors became euphemisms in Mexico for death He hung up his tennis shoes or He went out tennis shoes first We also have a few vignettes about the evolution of ball games in general the four the Romans played none of which resembled tennis and the deadly Aztec games We also learn a bit about art especially that of Caravaggio For example he was his own model for Holofernes in the painting Judith Beheading Holofernes and his Basket of Fruit was the trendsetting first painting of still life among Italian Renaissance painters One line I liked that summed up a messy relationship among two men their shared prostitute her pimp a banker and a Cardinal I know it sounds like a joke they all walk into a bar Never were the connections among politics money art and semen so tight or so murky I enjoyed reading the book It s relatively short for a historical novel 272 pages although many pages contain only a paragraph or so of prose It s well written with a lot of relatively interesting historical information that is accurate enough The tennis ball theme substitutes for a plot The on going tennis match between the artist and the poet that continues throughout the book I found a bit boring and repetitive The Mexican author b 1969 has written a half dozen novels two books of short stories and a book of essays According to what I can make out on GR only two appear to have been translated into English the other is Hypothermia Sudden Death is by far his most widely read work Top painting Judith Beheading Holofernes 1599 by Caravaggio from caravaggioorg A religious miter made by Aztecs for the church Owned by the Hispanic Society of America on display at Columbia University museum Basket of Fruit c 1599 by Caravaggio from Wikipedia commonsThe author from the nytimescom


About the Author: Álvaro Enrigue

Escritor editor y crítico literario nacido en México D F en 1969 Álvaro Enrigue ha pasado su vida entre el Distrito Federal y Washington DC Fue durante un tiempo profesor de Literatura en la Universidad Iberoamericana y de Escritura Creativa en la de Maryland Desde 1990 se dedica a la crítica literaria y ha colaborado en revistas y periódicos de México y España A su regreso a México desp



10 thoughts on “Muerte súbita

  1. says:

    Sudden Death by Alvaro EnrigueA book that’s hard to classify but I think it’s mostly a historical novel told in vignettes or less tied in with the history of early tennis Mostly the time frame is during the Renaissance lets say the 1400’s and 1500’s and the counter reformation of the mid 1500’s Tennis and tennis balls a

  2. says:

    This is the best book I've read in years An indictment history and hope Caravaggio in a tennis match with a Spanish poet A tennis ball made from Anne Boleyn's hair The savage diplomacy of Hernán Cortés A mitre of feathers for the Pope made by the recently conuered natives of the Americas These are all things that happened in this book but it's not what it's about This is a book about today It's a book about

  3. says:

    I have felt like a tennis ball while reading this unclassifiable novel My attention my head was bopping from Tenochtitlan during the 1530s to Piazza Navona around 1599 where another ball game was taking place between the painter Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio in Lombardy and Francisco de uevedo the Spanish poet from the Golden Age Spa

  4. says:

    I'm happy to have had the opportunity to read this in advance and interview the author Generally it's a great beguiling book like a mystery novel its far flung parts come together over time via the life changing magic of an asserti

  5. says:

    Amazing writing Amazing And great translation by Natasha WimmerThis is powerful writing about art religion opposites transitions the Spanish

  6. says:

    45 With its scenes of Caravaggio and Spanish poet uevedo playing a hungover tennis match using a ball stuffed with Anne Boleyn’s hair in lieu of a duel over some slight no one can remember Counter Reformation popes scheming and receiving gifts of exuisite iridescent New World featherwork and Cortés and Malinalli La Malinche in

  7. says:

    I’m not exactly sure what I just read; but that’s okay because the author doesn’t know either As I write

  8. says:

    it's no coincidence that when speaking of someone's death in mexico we say he hung up his tennis shoes that he went out tennis shoes first we are who we are unfixable fucked we wear tennis shoes we fly from good to evil from

  9. says:

    About 30 pages into this book I wasn't entirely sure what was happening but I decided to accept that feeling and buckle up f

  10. says:

    uite erudite and some lovely tidbits about various things that do interest me uite a lot tales of New World first encounters Caravaggio Anne Boleyn But don't believe people who say it's not about tennis There's a lot of te

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