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A Brief History of Portable Literature

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A reader’s fictional tour of the art and lives of some of the great 20th-century Surrealists
An author (a version of Vila-Matas himself) presents a short “history” of a secret society, the Shandies, who are obsessed with the concept of “portable literature.” The society is entirely imagined, but in this rollicking, intellectually playful book, its members include writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, Man Ray, and Georgia O’Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in apartments, hotels, and cafes all over Europe to discuss what great literature really is: brief, not too serious, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in stationary submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe. 

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 23, 2015 – Vila-Matas (Dublinesque) bends borders between authenticity and fabrication in this account of a short-lived (and fictional) secret society of notable artists that includes Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Aleister Crowley, William Carlos Williams, Georgia O'Keeffe, Tristan Tzara, and many others. Chapters follow the group's efforts to produce and champion "portable" literature, the kind of writing that exhibits the "arrogant velocity of the lightning bolt of insolence." In a collage of endnotes, quotations, and imagined moments, an unnamed narrator chronicles the covert collaborators: their formation in Nigeria during the summer of 1924, incidents in New York City, events leading to member Jacques Rigaut's suicide in Paris, stealthy celebrations in Vienna, gatherings in Prague and Trieste, an exploration in a submarine, and attempts to escape their doppelgangers. Describing characteristics of the work by the portable collective, Vila-Matas defines his own writing: "impulsive, puerile, sweet and jumpy, hungry for destruction, and, at the same time, possessed of a lucid experimental intelligence." His intelligent playfulness and his fervor for written language are visible on every page and highlighted by this excellent translation. Vila-Matas is a master, one of the most gifted contemporary Spanish novelists.
A Brief History of Portable Literature
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jun 09, 2015
  • Publisher: New Directions
  • Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Print Length: 128 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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