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Subscriber Tools Renew Donate. J uan Villoro b. A remarkably versatile writer, both in terms of subject matter and genre, Villoro also stands out for his insistently reflective style. You have vilooro a great deal about sports in your career, and I was wondering to what extent you can compare vulloro to watching or playing sports.

How do sports and spaces where sports are played help you think about literature? What interests me about sports, not as a fan but as a writer, is that sports represent an articulated form of passion.

La Casa Pierde by Juan Villoro (2011, Paperback)

By looking at sport, we can understand behaviors that relate to how we express and give in to our emotions in contemporary society. I just want my team to win. From a judicial point of view, there are conditions determining what one can say in a courtroom. But from a moral, psychological, and literary point of view, the subjective process that makes someone a good witness is much more complex.

I piede not believe that any witness is completely passive or apathetic. Inevitably, the witness participates in the experiment of looking.

By contrast, in soccer I look for the voice of the tribe, the collective voice, the contemporary Greek chorus that expresses itself in a stadium.

Clearly this novel is about national identity, a nearly exhausted but important theme. In the novel, is there an image of the collective that still works? The Mexican in my novel, for a very personal reason, has lived in Paris for twenty-four years before returning to Mexico. So the novel tells the story of the end of an era in personal terms—the character who returns to his country—and the end of an era in national terms—the first democratic alternation of power.

But this alternation is more of a rupture than a continuity, because a conservative party comes to power dd a spirit of vindication defined by Catholic conservative ideas that predate even the Revolution of — My protagonist pierrde himself in a country that is at once his and not his. He realizes that the so-called step forward for Mexico is in reality the opportunity to settle old scores. All sorts of skeletons start coming out of the closet, and he finds himself in a country that he fails to understand.


In the novel, I venture that the conservative party in power was going to be connected to the restoration of a moral order that we thought had been relegated to the past—the moral order of the Catholic Church, restrictions on some individual freedoms, and so on. And at the same time I depict—and this I really underestimated—social pidrde at the moment that the established order is lost.

The order of impunity that defined the old authoritarian party, the PRI, not having been replaced with another order, helped create a chaotic context in which organized crime finds fantastic opportunities. The new powers that be are television, soap operas, narcotrafficking, and fanaticism. Why do you believe that? Well, the territory constructed in a work of literature may refer to a concrete place, but it is not subject to its geographical, political, or cultural coordinates.

The symbolic creation of a given space is a process of converting a geographical domain into a representational domain. The latter may look like the real place to which it corresponds, but it has a life of its own. Writing is a process of inventive subtraction. So James Joyce writes the great novel of Dublin that is at the same time about a very different, imaginary Dublin.

Literary space is always the product of the imaginary usage of an actual space. Almost every year I teach a survey of twentieth-century Latin American literature. One author my students tend to like a lot is Augusto Monterroso. Is there a moment or lesson from that course you remember particularly well?

Yes, Vikloro was in a workshop with him, and I remember that Juam was a very strict teacher who put a lot of emphasis on the details of writing. He was a great humorist, but he was also very interested in literary details.

La casa pierde – Juan Villoro – Google Books

For example, one really interesting thing I remember is his insistence that writers add, on purpose, mistakes to their texts, some kind of dissonance, a minor moment of deliberate carelessness to give the text a sense of naturalness.

Naturalness is one of the hardest things to achieve in a literary text. So he always urged us to include, unexpectedly, and very much on purpose, some error having to do with some detail—the use of commas, word choice, redundancy—to make the text seem more natural. This effective use of error is crucial for Monterroso. You definitely cultivate a sense of humor in your writing. Why did the protagonist, Valdivieso, hate Supertramp so much? Remember, he plagiarized his thesis.


And when we do something that offends ourselves, that makes us feel ashamed, instead of assuming percent of the responsibility, we transfer our feelings to something else. Due to random circumstances, Valdivieso remembered his plagiarism every time he listened to Supertramp.

So, instead of hating himself, he decides to hate Supertramp as a means of compensation. But why Supertramp in particular? Well I needed a band I could criticize with abandon. I even saw them once in Berlin. Taking on the Rolling Stones, for example, is complicated. I would have had to bring in the heavy artillery in order to demythify the Stones, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, or the Doors, you know, the legendary bands.

I needed a lesser band. Supertramp is a band you can make fun of pretty easily—the perfect rival for Valdivieso.

A Coversation with Juan Villoro | World Literature Today

So Supertramp reminds Valdivieso of his past, which continues to affect him throughout the novel. Yes, I am very interested in what you might call juam weight of absence, the burden of that which never happened but which still affects you.

He thought she had abandoned him, but her standing him up was actually an accident.

Things like this happen to us all the time. For example, if you go and live in Oklahoma, you become the-person-who-did-not-go-to-Texas. Cancellations, things that are decided against, weigh on us in mysterious ways. Nevertheless, it still affects us.

Another aspect of this phenomenon that interests me cilloro applying retroactive logic to chance, or accidents. He suffers the burden of absence and, on the other hand, the burden of explaining chance.

Juan Villoro

I suppose that in the end we all want there to be no accidents; we want to abolish chance. His research focuses on culture and politics in Mexico, especially the late twentieth century.

His book, Fictions of Totality: View the discussion thread. The January issue of WLTguest edited by Pireeni Sundaralingam, listens in on the crosstalk between science and literature.

Skip to main content. Home Magazine January Interviews. Science in the Theater,” Kenneth Lin by. Two Poems, Pattiann Rogers by. Two Poems, Panna Naik by.

Written on Earth and Water: Poetry and Ecology in Nicaragua. A Coversation with Juan Villoro. An interview with American crime writer Jenny White by.