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Never Any End to Paris Paperback – May 24, 2011


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Never Any End to Paris + Bartleby & Co. + Montano's Malady (New Directions Paperbook)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mr. Vila-Matas shows that the reasons for (and the consequences of) not writing fiction can, in a funny way, be almost as rich and complicated as fiction itself.” (The Economist)

“Vila-Matas’s touch is light and whimsical, while his allusions encompass a rogue’s gallery of world literature.” (Time Out New York)

“I’m reading Vila-Matas’s book like a novel, a very good novel in which the narrator gives us exhaustive information about the protagonist who happens to be himself. I don’t know him personally, nor am I planning to meet him, I prefer to read him and let his literature pervade me.” (Pedro Almodóvar)

About the Author

Enrique Vila-Matas was born in Barcelona in 1948. His novels have been translated into eleven languages and honored by many prestigious literary awards including the Prix Médicis Etranger. Author of Bartleby & Co., Montano’s Malady, and Never Any End to Paris, he has received Europe’s most prestigious awards and been translated into twenty-seven languages.

Anne McLean has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice, as well as the Premio Valle Inclán. She has translated the works of Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ignacio Padilla, and Evelio Rosero.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 1 edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811218139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811218139
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Reader and Writer on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Visit one of the three predominant English bookstores in Paris on any given day and you'll see English speaking tourists demanding a copy Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. The myth of the writer lingers in Paris almost more than it does anywhere else. For the main character of Never Any End to Paris not only does he write a book reflecting on his early days as tinged with similarities to those of the young Hemingway, he believes he looks like Hemingway. He enters the Hemingway Look-Alike Context in Key West, Florida only to be disqualified for having an "absolute lack of physical resemblance to Hemingway." This does little, however, to diminish his conviction that every day he looks more and more like Hemingway. A hundred or so pages later the issue becomes more complicated. Our narrator meets a Spanish political exile who is dressed as young Hemingway and who when asked about this replies, "That's because I am Hemingway. I thought you'd realized that."

Enrique Vila-Matas is one of those writers you have to know; to know him start with this novel. Sparkling with odd coincidences, layered remembrances, and referential passages, the book spins a tale with a sort of grounded uncanniness. It is simultaneously an homage to Hemingway and other writers, a remembrance of things passed and past, and a conference speech in progress. The author describes his days living in a Paris garrett and working on a book titled The Lettered Assassin, which must refer to Vila-Matas' book in Spanish titled La asesina ilustrade from 1977, that he hopes will cause the death of each reader as soon as the last page is reached. In fact once the book is written it's sort of the death of Paris because the writer moves back to Barcelona.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Lundgren on June 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Most serious writers, I imagine, come to a point in their writing lives when they think: "This literature thing is played. There's nothing to add. All that's left is embroidery." Enrique Vila-Matas, unlike most most writers, isn't reduced to despair or paralysis by this statement; his work takes indebtedness as a starting point and can be read as one immense acknowledgments page. This is his third book to appear in English translation, after "Bartleby & Co" and "Montano's Malady." We can only hope that more are on the way.

The text presents itself as a memoir of artistic youth in 1970s Paris, delivered as an academic lecture on irony many years after the fact. In short, not a typical bildingsroman by any means, although the young and somewhat naive protagonist is clearly a version of Vila-Matas himself: on hiatius from a legal career in Barcelona, living in a bohemian garret run by Marguerite Duras, and working on a first novel called "The Lettered Assassin," which centers around a fictional text that will kill its readers.

"I suspected that by killing off my readers, I was never going to find anyone who would love me," the narrator comments at one point, and this is typical of the way Vila-Matas undercuts his younger self. At the same time, the novel genuinely evokes the ardor, mortification, and occasional joy of being a young writer in a greatness-haunted city: Perec, Burroughs, Beckett, and Barthes all have cameos here. In some ways this book is about the older, deskbound writer forging an ironic distance from his unruly young self. But traces of that early passion remain and nothing escapes scrutiny, not even irony.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Remy G on June 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those in the USA who have not read Vila-Matas and read little in translation, let me describe his writing as follows: Imagine Paul Auster at his best. Enrique Vila-Matas is galaxies better. Have you read "Flaubert's Parrot" by Julian Barnes? Now we're at least on the same field.

For those like me who had only read "Bartleby & Co" by Vila-Matas previously and enjoyed it, let me say that you will be quite pleased. As pleased as you will also be by diving into Rubem Fonseca and Luis Fernando Verissimo, to name a few.

For those who are only interested because Roberto Bolano said you should be, do not expect this to be Bolano-esque. "2666" was a beast in its own right; however, the shorter fiction of Vila-Matas is arguably as strong as that of Bolano.
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Format: Paperback
This is an autobiography without the biography. Or memoirs without memories. Those statements could sound unintelligible but I can't think of better words to describe the great -and intelligible- style of Enrique Vila-Matas. Never Any End to Paris is the exacerbation of that style. Let me explain myself. In order for an autobiography to stick to the traditional rules of the genre, the author has to possess acute, or at least clear, memories of what he is recounting. He/she should possess a clear concept of himself/herself. Vila-Matas does not follow these rules and Never Any End to Paris -which could be thought as a book that conveys the impossibility of writing books- becomes the autobiography of a person who does not recognize himself in the man he was in the past or in the man he is when he looks at himself in the mirror.

What I find the most interesting about this book is how Vila-Matas (or the narrator) comes to like the idea of originality: through his liking of the literature of Georges Perec, through the eccentricities of his friend and tutor Marguerite Duras, or through discrete geniuses who live in the margins of society (for example, a transvestite named Vicky Vaporú who ends up being probably the only sane person in the book.)

Never Any End to Paris belongs to that literary genre of books that endlessly reference other books and authors. Metafiction, you would call it. Vila-Matas, I believe, takes the genre to another level. While constantly referencing Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, he creates a book of his own (Hemingway's sad Parisian years become Vila-Matas' happy years) and makes a confession about the uselessness of literary creation in a world that has lost its moral and metaphysical values.

Make no mistake. Vila-Matas is one of the best writers/essayists (whatever you want to call it) writing in the Spanish language today.
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