The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: The Happy Years
Piglia is Renzi. Or Renzi is Piglia. It’s unclear which, and finally, Renzi/Piglia says, “I have understood my schizoid way of thinking: I attribute to others the issues that I want to understand in myself. So I choose a real double…and experience issues in them that I can’t see with any clarity in myself.” With this book, the middle volume of a trilogy, that double is himself.
Piglia invents himself in the diary’s pages and writes himself into existence. Renzi isn’t necessarily a fictionalized version of Piglia, but rather Piglia one step removed. “A diary, this series of notebooks, is made from little traces, isolated situations, nothing spectacular, a narrative imbalance for which dead time does not exist.” And from this, Piglia decides who he is, who he wants to be, who he will be.
He notes several times throughout the diaries what a strange experience it is to reread them periodically, for it’s only then that they’re imbued with any meaning. It’s also in this act, as anyone who’s kept a diary could tell you, that you realize you never were that person you thought you were. It might also be worth noting, as Piglia/Renzi points out at one point, “To write reviews of foreign books is to critique the version, the translation, as though it were the original.”
An immensely strange and gripping book, The Happy Years is, at its core, an autobiography about writing an autobiography.
|Ricardo Piglia • Robert Croll, Translator
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