Aidan and I have known each other for about ten years. He was the first person I ever saw reading Bolaño. So, it’s really nice to launch into this new experiment by talking about a book a really love with the person who introduced me to it and who I respect heaps. Aidan has supplied a bio below but I want to add that he is really committed and exciting writer.
Neither of us re-read the book before we recorded this podcast, so I am not sure if there are spoilers in the podcast or just mis-remembered and re-imagined bits of our versions of 2666.
We both scramble to remember a quote from the book and can’t, so here it is:
“Without turning, the pharmacist answered that he liked books like The Metamorphosis, Bartleby, A Simple Heart, A Christmas Carol. And then he said that he was reading Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Leaving aside the fact that A Simple Heart and A Christmas Carol were stories, not books, there was something revelatory about the taste of this bookish young pharmacist, who … clearly and inarguably preferred minor works to major ones. He chose The Metamorphosis over The Trial, he chose Bartleby over Moby Dick, he chose A Simple Heart over Bouvard and Pecouchet, and A Christmas Carol over A Tale of Two Cities or The Pickwick Papers. What a sad paradox, thought Amalfitano. Now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze a path into the unknown. They choose the perfect exercises of the great masters. Or what amounts to the same thing: they want to watch the great masters spar, but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.”
Aidan Rasmussen is a Wellington-based writer who graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland in 2006. In a previous life he was a freelance music journalist whose stories and reviews appeared in The New Zealand Herald, The Sunday Star Times, Rip It Up, and The New Zealand Listener. Still seeking that elusive first piece of published fiction, he currently works as a freelance web copywriter and editor, which is really a euphemism for stay-at-home dad – something he’s not altogether unhappy about.
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Next time, I’ll be talking with Sarah Bainbridge about David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide.