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Serendipity: “Nothing Is Ever Repeated”

Juan José Saer (1937-2005)

Juan José Saer (1937-2005)

This is how I find new authors: Sick with a miserable cold, I go to Yamadaya Ramen in Westwood and while snarfing down a premium shio with extra bamboo shoots, I read the November 20, 2014 edition of The New York Review of Books and find a review by David Gallagher of an Argentinean author I would very much like to read, Juan José Saer. Here he talks about La Grande, Saer’s unfinished novel that has recently been published by Open Letter:

On a long, meditative bus ride from Rosario back to Santa Fe, Tomatis concludes that even the most familiar objects in his house change all the ti9me. “When we return to the kitchen from the dining room, or to the dining room from the kitchen, in the time it takes to find a clean knife in the utensil drawer, everything has changed,” he muses, and in the manner of the Colastiné Indians, he wonders if his house or town will still be there when he gets back. Nula is fascinated with the notion that no two instances are alike, and he obsesses about it on the most unlikely occasions, as when he kisses for the first time a girl called Virginia, with whom he is about to have a one-night stand. In his car, on their way to a motel he reflects that no two kisses are the same. With Virginia by his side he somehow has the time and the inclination to tell himself that

although everything is alike, nothing is ever repeated, and that since the beginning of time, when the great delirium began its expansion, … every event is unique, flaming, unknown, and ephemeral: the individual does not incarnate the species, and the part is not a part of the whole, but only a part, and the whole in turn is always a part; there is no whole; the goldfinch that sings at dawn sings for itself; … and its previous song, which even it does not remember singing, and which seems so much like the one before, if one listened carefully, would clearly be different.