Empty words

Mario Levrero

Book - 2019

"A writer begins keeping a notebook of handwriting exercises hoping that, if he is able to improve his penmanship, his character will improve too. What begins as a mere physical exercise is filled involuntarily with reflections and anecdotes about living, writing, and the sense--or nonsense--of existence"--

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FICTION/Levrero, Mario
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1st Floor FICTION/Levrero, Mario Checked In
Subjects
Published
Minneapolis : Coffee House Press 2019.
Edition
First English-language edition
Language
English
Spanish
Item Description
"First published in 1996 as El discurso vacío by Ediciones Trilce."
Physical Description
xv, 122 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN
9781566895460
1566895464
Main Author
Mario Levrero (author)
Other Authors
Annie McDermott (translator)
  • Exercises
  • The empty discourse
  • Exercises
  • Epilogue: the empty discourse.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A grumpy writer seeks to focus his mind with handwriting exercises in this charming novel, the first by Uruguayan author Levrero (1940–2004) to be translated into English. Frustrated by his "mindless, scattered days" of attempting to write amid the constant distractions of family life, Levrero's narrator embraces "graphological self-therapy," hoping that improving the legibility of his handwriting will translate into an improvement in "my concentration and the continuity of my thoughts." But as quotidian events such as a maid's abrupt departure and his partner's desire for a new house continue to intrude, the narrator realizes that "these exercises are becoming less calligraphical and more literary." He begins varying them with explorations of his dog's conflict with a neighborhood cat and of his dreams, but those subjects prove even more distracting. The narrator's histrionics over his mundane responsibilities may be laughable, but his anxieties and preoccupations are captured with such precision by Levrero that the reader will breathe a sigh of relief whenever the exercises resume after a stress-induced break. "Going back to these exercises is always a first step toward psychological health," the narrator writes, and it's hard not to be persuaded that clearly printing one's S's and G's may just be the secret to a happy life, after all. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A writer begins keeping a notebook of handwriting exercises hoping that, if he is able to improve his penmanship, his character will improve too. What begins as a mere physical exercise is filled involuntarily with reflections and anecdotes about living, writing, and the sense--or nonsense--of existence"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An eccentric novelist begins to keep a notebook of handwriting exercises, hoping that if he’s able to improve his penmanship, his personal character will also improve. What begins as a mere physical exercise becomes involuntarily colored by humorous reflections and tender anecdotes about living, writing, and the sense—or nonsense—of existence.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From a legendary cult figure in Latin American literature, the story of a writer who obsessively observes his own handwriting in search of answers about his identity.