paying for the lights of bohemia

a review of Enrique Vila-Matas’ Never Any End To Paris

The book, or lecture, tells of the ‘farcical garret life’ of a writer ensnared in the error of becoming a writer. Becoming, perhaps, Vila-Matas, or else his nameless namesake, the lecturer, an old man immersed in the ‘irony’ of his ‘not having been aware of irony as a young man’. In a Borgesian take on the problem of types and tokens, the place where these identities overlap is the very place they diverge. The protagonist labours absurdly over his first novel, The Lettered Assassin, a project whose preposterous aim is ‘to kill its readers’. In reality, Le asesina ilustrada (1977) was the second of Vila-Matas’ novels. Do the two books coincide? Such questions are raised but never resolved, which is why Never Any End to Paris resembles an edge or an opening, not onto anything outside itself, but onto literature, a leap from a sheer drop, located within the book’s written limits. In this sense, the text may best be read as its own invention, with no prior knowledge of the life of its author. The true world the book opens onto is one where a writer called ‘Enrique Vila-Matas’ never existed. Let alone Hemingway. Let alone Paris.

read the rest at 3:AM Magazine

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