Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vheissu: An Autoblography

A hundred posts. This is post number 100, in fact. Is 100 a lot? (At the very least, that’s quite a few hours spent blogging.) Is 100 too little? (A post every five and a half days, more or less, over the past 18 months.) Too many or too few, it’s still a good chance to stop and think back about Vheissu. Hence the title of this post: the autobiography of a blog. It’ll be brief. Bear with me.

I was far from an expert on blogs (I still don’t consider myself one) when I started blogging back in December 2008. I had roamed around some blogs, and sprinkled some comments here and there (taking them much too seriously, I now realize). I saw the forms some blogs on literature (in Spanish) were taking, and was both enticed and deeply disappointed. I also saw what kinds of hokum often became instantly popular with bloggers (many of those blogs read like prolix, intimate letters that went public by mistake), and felt both puzzled and determined not to repeat the pattern. At the same time, I felt sickened by some novels that in late 2008 were getting prizes they really didn’t deserve. The combination of that revulsion and my first dip into the blogosphere became the driving force behind my first idea for a blog: writing about (strike that: denouncing) novels that were winning prizes. A blog about award-winning novels. I tried to cajole other bloggers I knew to join the project. Got a couple nah’s, and the idea fizzled out.

I still went ahead and hatched a blog, encouraged by my cousin, who had far more experience with that universe. The blog needed an address and a name. Some daft fellow somewhere had taken federicoescobar already, as a class exercise it seems, and left it moribund. So it was down to federicoescobarcordoba. What about a name for the blog? I was entranced by Pynchon then, and I was hooked by the mysterious Vheissu that appeared in his first novel, V. So that would be it. Later I realized that Vheissu was also an album by Thrice (the name was inspired by Pynchon too), which will probably be your first hit when you Google it. I closed my first post pointing to Pynchon’s Vheissu.

Next issue was the language of the posts. As you can see, post number 1 was in English, posts numbers 2 and 3 in Spanish. Somebody asked about that wavering. The answer I gave then is still true today: it depends on what I’m writing about. If it’s a book in English, the post will follow suit; if it’s in Spanish, ditto. Lately, though, I’ve been indulging English more than Spanish (good ole post 100 is an example). Why? Good question. Perhaps it’s just a matter of the gravitational pull of what I’ve been reading the most recently.

The contents of the blog were fixed: I would be writing comments on literature and thereabouts (the book industry or language, for instance). I’ve made an effort to keep silent on nonfiction books, which I love to read, but I may give in to temptation when they are particularly significant.

I had my doubts about posting my own short stories. With some misgivings at first, I did post a few, both in English (tag: Fiction) and in Spanish (tag: Ficción). I’ve removed some of them, though, because I submitted them to journals or mailed them to contests. And I haven’t posted any recently, largely because I’ve been working on a novel, with little time left after bill-paying work for writing short stories.

The frequency of posts has varied. I left the blog dormant for a while (starting here), mostly because I was having doubts about keeping the blog and because work got out of hand. But work hadn’t abated when, in a moment of madness, I committed myself to writing a post a day during the whole of August 2009. It was a self-proclaimed short story month, announced here and begun here. It was exhausting, and I have no immediate plans on repeating that frenzy. Afterward, I have been writing posts on and off, posts have become shorter than at the beginning, and short stories figure prominently as subjects.

That last sentence pretty much brings us to the present. I set out some goals for the year, and hence I’ve been writing about bestsellers (even about books literary types outright shun, and I mean this literally: I recently tried to give away this book to three writers, and all of them snubbed it with gagging sounds and head shaking). I’ve also discussed books on writing, and more comments along the lines are on the way.

So, having said all that, retrospection time is over. What’ll come next? A note on a John Le Carré novel. Comments on a barrage of One Story stories, and then back to TNY to discuss recent pieces. Somewhere along the line, postings on the three most recent Zoetropes. It’ll take a while to get there, but that’s the plan.

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