Friday, February 29, 2008

The Dancer and the Thief

Friday, February 29, 2008

My "Pick of the Week" goes to Thursday's program with Chilean novelist, Antonio Skarmeta. Every time I started getting academic, using words like "feminist," or raising questions like, "So you reminded Chileans of who they really are" - he always responded by bringing the conversation back to earth, saying "No, not so pretentious..." or "That's too intellectual for me..." He reminded me in this way of Fellini who used to throw his hands up in the air in exasperation at critics and journalists who were forever asking him about "the meaning" of his work.

There are great characters in The Dancer and the Thief, and what I liked best was the way Skarmeta expressed real delight in following his them around Santiago, discovering the surprises life throws at them and what they will do next, exactly the same joy that he grants his reader. It made me realize that a novel is something that is truly alive, that it unfolds as it's being written, unpredictably, just like life. My favorite moment in the program was when he became semi-convulsed remembering the chapter wherein Angel quizzes Victoria on her exam questions while making love to her.

The only thing that bothers me is that, almost invariably, when I host programs that are based on newly translated novels like The Dancer and the Thief which hardly anybody has ever heard of, nobody calls. So, is there any way to remedy that? It's wonderful to share the joy of discovering and introducing listeners to new literature from other countries, but I can't help feeling that a talk show that fails to attract callers is a failed talk show. Any comments, or ideas?

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