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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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Showing results by Francesco Pacifico only

All I had were words, but I had no warmth to infuse them with. I felt I had nowhere else to go but satire. Satire shares something with empathy, but it’s a contorted relationship. Maybe they’re stepsiblings. They’re forced to live together, but satire spends all its time bullying empathy. The first version of Class had a big satire problem. Since all I felt was sadness and loneliness, and guilt about the pleasures of traveling and partying, and also about the way literature had provided a way away from my family and that specific church across that specific street, I retreated to my French literature gods—Proust, Maupassant, Zola, Balzac, Flaubert—and chose to make fun of society. Fucking society! I crushed those characters and their mannerisms. I didn’t know what else I could do.

—p.111 American Dream (105) by Francesco Pacifico 3 years, 1 month ago

But where people could relate to Alessandro’s novel, they couldn’t relate to mine. There’s a clunkiness to my writing that comes from a loneliness so extreme it never manages to warm up. I don’t suffer like a poet, I suffer like an office clerk. The second part of the novel offered no comforting hugs to anyone, nor did it provide any explanation of or knowledge about the impotent, Catholic anti-Semite at its center. The flamboyance of the style was an implicit promise to the publisher—and the foreign publishers—that their money would be earned back. But it was only style, and style is never enough.

i kind of love this

—p.113 American Dream (105) by Francesco Pacifico 3 years, 1 month ago

One time, I was interviewed on satellite television by a pair of good-looking 25-year-old hosts who asked me: What’s it like to have it made? Their anxious tone betrayed a lack of confidence you rarely see on TV. It was so strange to see people that young, working in broadcast media, projecting such intense feelings of dread. An interview is all about the hustle—it’s the awkward pursuit of those elusive moments when the interviewer suddenly feels (and this happens to me, too, when I’m the one holding the recorder) that they’ve captured something good, something that will lead to an uptick in their reputation. I could tell that for the interviewers and the young writers who were watching, Class was a major bummer. It reminded them that the hustle was ridiculous in the midst of the hustle itself. And still they couldn’t stop, because what else could they do? Everybody their age assumed they were going to try and fail. This made me realize I’d written something more horrifying than I’d planned. The younger readers saw beyond the petulant mannerisms of my characters and made me realize that what the novel was really about was how those characters had no choice.

—p.115 American Dream (105) by Francesco Pacifico 3 years, 1 month ago

This second, English version of Class had the same structure as the first, and I don’t think I took out any scenes, but it felt very different anyway. It came out in the US and got good reviews, and Dwight Garner put it on his year-end list in the Times. I was so happy! I had lost money on this book (the unpaid translation and the tiny advance), but Garner’s praise, and Christian Lorentzen’s review in New York, were what I needed to keep going. In the end I’ll find the money to pay for my need to write. I’m desperate. I’m like them—like my characters. I don’t care. The following may not make sense, but to me it truly doesn’t matter if I get my money from my wife, my parents, the Italian encyclopedia where I work, or from you, my motherfucking readers. I hate you! I just need the money, because if I don’t write these nightmares I will die.

I hate what you are feeling right now. You are not seeing the breakdowns and the panic and the days we spend in bed with the curtains down. Authors show off their empathy and what the readers see is glamour. I hate all of this.

—p.117 American Dream (105) by Francesco Pacifico 3 years, 1 month ago

I now saw before me the profound depth of my dissatisfaction with what the market and the publishing industry do to authors. The industry makes us forget that we got here because we couldn’t make sense of things, we couldn’t just pick up whatever shared sense of reality we were taught in school, in church, on TV. We needed to create our own, detailed reality. But then the industry makes you hurry up and go ahead, eager for you to craft a career for yourself, instead of a history.

—p.120 American Dream (105) by Francesco Pacifico 3 years, 1 month ago

I follow the Borges credo that literature is the friction coming from the veils and the levels and the frames, all the obstacles keeping a reader from obtaining the dream of truth. A translation is just one more literary veil added to the others. There’s no direct truth to be stared at. For this reason I love the work of Antoine Volodine. He is a French novelist who writes like some made-up Russian author in translation, and his collaboration with translators is at once strong and unbelievably free. His Italian accomplice, Anna D’Elia, is a wild visionary who conjures up a dreamy Italian that doesn’t feel like a translation from a particular language, only a big joke on what feels literary, what feels spooky, a fake séance where she jokingly pretends to believe in the myth of the urtext.

—p.72 L'Autore Invisible (67) by Francesco Pacifico 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I can translate a dominant, weak soul with my eyes closed. This monologue smacks of David Foster Wallace and J. D. Salinger to me. It feels so good to live in a century that has ceased to celebrate that voice. I can be sentimentally attached to it, of course, but its delightful shallowness is drying up not because some of its exemplars have been canceled or problematized, but because it’s a voice that’s been outgrown — just as the decadent voice before it retreated and the romantic voice retreated before that. The voices have become niche forms of expression, and now the male ball-hogging neurotic voice is fading too. Some people will continue to use it, but it’ll come to sound more and more like the way a creep or a stalker uses Milady or Principessa. And I will always be able to translate that voice. It is in my DNA forever.

—p.74 L'Autore Invisible (67) by Francesco Pacifico 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I had an early fall deadline, which meant that from May to August I had to rush through the long novel. Its unrelenting cruelty entered my imagination at a disorienting pace, the nonsense of every vignette in the book a whirlwind of pain and revelation I couldn’t just stop and process. Every day I ate up entire sequences, seeing them go impeccably wrong, seeing bad outcomes transpire without being able to stop. Ellison writes so that you can tell he can inhabit the murderer and the victim, the dumbest character and the smartest. He feels lost all the time, he doesn’t rule over his novel, he’s a devil, he’s in the details, he has no Tolstoyan ambition to lunge upward, he can inhabit the ugliest heap of furniture thrown onto the sidewalk during an eviction, he can inhabit the faint affectation of the vain old white trustee whose inanity shocks the plot forward. When I was translating scenes like the one where that young man is murdered by police, the rushed work gave me the feeling that I was a part of a well-oiled machine that killed young Black men for no reason — and then on to the next one.

—p.76 L'Autore Invisible (67) by Francesco Pacifico 8 months, 4 weeks ago

GRANULAR WORK on literature has shown me that there’s no way to stay whole if you are to participate in the publicity spin cycle that enfolds books the way it does everything. Working on translations helps in this respect. You get very close to the imagery and the sentences. You live in a kind of slow motion that reveals that there is no atmosphere, no halo sustaining the sentences. The halo emanates from the cover, not the page. The page is dry, it’s creaking, it’s a desert. No, that’s misleading. What I want to say is that the more you delve into a complex book, the more you appreciate the way it is composed and all the invisible senses it arouses and performs inside your mind — the more you feel the emptiness, the void that stares at you at the bottom of all the wealth. Engaging with complex work takes you away from the possibility of learning things from a book.

—p.79 L'Autore Invisible (67) by Francesco Pacifico 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I EDIT THREE TYPES of work: my writing, other people’s writing, and the two-headed monster that is my translation work — a mix of my writing and somebody else’s. When I teach creative writing I also close read the so-called classics with my students. These four activities amount to a lot of extremely slow reading, and I’ve come to regard that slowness as the only thing I love about literature. When you speed it up, it becomes news, it becomes content, it becomes entertainment. When it’s slow, and it’s slow for hours, for days, it helps you glance beyond the hollow network of meanings that we cater to in order to be a functional society.

—p.80 L'Autore Invisible (67) by Francesco Pacifico 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Showing results by Francesco Pacifico only