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My Two Worlds Paperback – August 16, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Lean, thoughtful, and keenly observed, the Argentinean Chejfec's first work translated into English packs a great deal of insight into 102 pages. The narrator, an unnamed Argentinean writer, wanders a city in the south of Brazil. He is a great enthusiast of walking, going so far as to claim that it saved him, although from what he's uncertain: "maybe from the danger of not being myself... because to walk is to enact the illusion of autonomy and above all the myth of authenticity." Recently, however, the act has become less meaningful--or perhaps less mysterious--to him. He seeks out a park "too large not to have the air of abandonment which so appeals" to him. He is self-conscious, worried about being ignored, and sure he's being judged; that the judgment of others remains opaque bothers him. Of ultimate concern, finally, is that walking has stopped giving him real insights. The book he's brought with him doesn't interest him nearly as much as boats shaped like swans, the meaning of time, or any number of other observations rendered in fascinating detail. Carson's magnificent translation of Chejfec's latest work should be treated as a significant event.
"I'd locate My Two Worlds among the rarae aves of recent fiction, among those books still capable of blazing new paths on the perilous trajectory of the modern novel."
"Chejfec bravely reveals to us a world seen all askew, wherein we will gaze at everyday objects, and perhaps glimpse their invisible, indestructible core." --Scott Esposito, The Critical Flame
"My Two Worlds leaps into your hands like a living artifact, a refugee." --ZYZZYVA
"[I]t is hard to think of another contemporary writer who, marrying true intellect with simple description of a space, simultaneously covers so little and so much ground." --TLS
"This first novel by New York-based Argentine native Chejfec to be translated into English is a slim, gracefully discursive work....[My Two Worlds] allows us to enter the thoughts of a restless intellectual whose streams of thought involve the reader in his quest to find meaning in everything he sees and does." --Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
That raises the question of why anyone would write a novel. It's as if an entire industry of readers and writers has sprung up around making what's silent speak. For awhile he thought that was the point of why literature existed - the written word confronts what exists so as to get it down. But as the narrator thinks about it, it ceases to have that much importance, and he decides that he may stop writing altogether.
A reader can see, vaguely no doubt, where all this introspection is going. The "two worlds" refer to the narrator's awareness of himself, and another world which is outside of himself. The tension of the book resides where these two merge and become inseparable. No matter how much we try to explain ourselves, either to ourselves or to others, there is always so much left out, so much that is arbitrary and confusing. The narrator draws upon an example from the technological media which has made first copies, rough drafts almost meaningless; our lives are endless and perpetual revisions, "soft copy" he calls it, able to vanish and reappear instantaneously.
All of this appears to present insoluble and vexing philosophical questions. But the narrator concludes that " just as we cannot choose our moment to be born, we also know nothing of the variable worlds we'll inhabit." We just have to resign ourselves to this endless uncertainty. If you as a reader are in the mood for this kind of questioning, ultimately, for why you read, you'll find the book intriguing. Otherwise, you'll exasperatedly throw it down after a few pages. I found myself somewhere in the middle..