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An OMF of one’s own making

February 6, 2012

To be perfectly honest, I am having trouble reading this book in parts. Some parts hold my attention more (or less)than others, but I feel that I am losing steam between each section. I am only able to get into each section around the time I have to start reading. This cycle has repeated itself each week.

With that in mind, what is interesting me is the question (asked by Dr Woodworth): am I creating a novel of my “own making” by looking for the themes that strike my fancy? I would say: most certainly. I think that this is always the case with any book or poem. Half the formation (at least) is in the hands of the reader/critic, which ties directly in with the “text theme” that keeps popping up.

I am currently also reading a short novel by the Argentinian writer Cesar Aira. The novel is entitled Varamos and is about a business man who, for the first time in his life, writes a poem. The poem is called “The Song of the Virgin Child” and inexplicably becomes a “classic” of avant-garde Latin American literature. Where am I going with this? Well, the novel itself is wholly “deduced (in the most rigorous sense of that word) from the poem that [the poet/Varamos] finally wrote, which is the only document that has survived” (44). The novel therefore becomes “an experiment in literary criticism” as it springs from and then enshrouds the poem in question. Meaning, the novel is the creation of the poem being read, as the surrounding details of the poem’s creation are inferred to create the novel itself. But now I am babbling and sophmorically overstating the point.

Anyway, this has of course crept into my reading of OMF and my understanding of the “texts” therein. Just to point to a couple examples from this week’s reading: Miss Peacher’s “nonexistent” but potential “essay” in response to the awaited proposal from Headstone and yet another reference (by Charley) to Lizzie’s “fire books.” I am now beginning to think of each character (who has an individual text) to have their genesis in their text; I am even reading the novel itself as springing from the texts within. I have not yet figured how this works or how to express it, but these things are working towards the creation of “my own novel” as I go along.

Aira, Cesar. Varamo. Trans. Chris Andrews. New York: New Directions, 2012.


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  1. I completely understand your frustration with OMF. I feel the same way while reading this book in parts. Although, I like how you said you are creating your own novel. I feel like that is probably the best way to stay connected with these short readings!

  2. I too have a hard time keeping up with the story. The other book sounds interesting as well. OMF is just one of those books that I just can’t get into. We all have them. Keep up the good work.

  3. I agree with your comments and am also having some trouble. It’s hard to keep everything straight when it’s not a constant read. I’m also glad to know I’m not the only person who lets other readings creep into Dickens.

  4. I hadn’t considered the possibility that my reading was influenced by what I was reading for until I thought about it. Now, like you, I seem to be focusing in on the themes that I consider more interesting.

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