February 12, Thursday evening -- Reading Osha Neumann

At my favorite taqueriaReading Up Against the Wall Motherfu**er: A Memoir of the '60s, with Notes for the Next Time, a book soon to be released, by Osha Neumann, a Berkeley author.

The book is of particular interest, as he both knows Osha Neumann and is researching and writing about the recent Oakland riots for the Spanish newspaper, El Mensajero.

His native language -- Spanish. He moved here from Mexico, in part, and it's possible he was teasing me, to improve his English so that he can finally read a Joseph Conrad book in its entirety, in its original language.

His favorite author -- Juan Rulfo, who he called the best Mexican author among the living and the dead and, definitely, one of the best writers of the 20th century. One of the author's charms include the ability to come up beautiful names for characters--Toribio Aldarete, Susana San Juan--names, which he is rumored to have come up with by wandering through cemeteries and reading the headstones. Juan Rulfo also wrote phrases that sound so beautiful that you puzzle how they could be translated into any other language -- "ay vida, no me mereces."

The conversation turned to the state of reading today. He was impressed with how much San Franciscans read. When I told him about my sadness that, one evening, a few weeks ago, I walked into a laundromat and the only things being read were the phone book and a drivers' education manual, he consoled me that, maybe, the phone book reader was a great novelist like Juan Rulfo, searching for beautiful names for characters.

3 Comments:

Pat said...

"...the phone book reader was a great novelist like Juan Rulfo, searching for beautiful names for characters."

LOVE that outlook! What a neat guy!

Paula said...

The Robe was written by Lloyd C Douglas before 1941 I think.. It is a very old book that I remember my grandmother having on her shelf.
I enjoy your blog very much!

Liza P. said...

ohhhh to learn a language in order to read works in their original language is good reason enough! i love comparing and contrasting the translations