on the writings of Sergio Pitol

PitolJeffrey Zuckerman at The Quarterly Conversation:

And so Pitol writes early in the first volume of his “Trilogy of Memory” that “Lately, I have been very aware that I have a past. Not only because I have reached an age when the greater part of the journey has been traveled, but also because I now know fragments of my childhood that until recently were off-limits to me.” What results from this declaration is a very unusual book that diverges from the standard tropes of memoir. Rather than attempt to divulge personal details or set the record straight, Pitol seeks to do something more personal and internalized: to fill in the gaps and holes of his memory before they grow bigger and deeper. The end result may have been aestheticized after the fact, but we are ultimately reading something that was written for the author alone. We are invited to forget ourselves, to put on the persona of Pitol himself and close up the wounds of time and memory by reading these words of his various travelings, readings, and meetings across the Western world.

After some four hundred pages of The Art of Flight, readers could be excused for thinking ofThe Journey’s 165 pages as a continuation of or an appendix to its predecessor. But to do so would be to underestimate the canvas on which Pitol is now working. When herida reappears in the middle volume of the “Trilogy of Memory,” it does so on a broader scale. In describing a Czech woman who would teach him Russian, Pitol writes that “Like all Czechs, she felt the wound of history in her marrow; she no longer believed in the possibility of a revival of socialism.”

more here.