A Novel called Aphasia that Contains Other Novels not called Aphasia: A virtual bookshelf by Mauro Javier Cárdenas
In Aphasia, Antonio’s concern for his sister, who has lost her ability to distinguish between what transpires inside / outside of her mind, blights his imagination and therefore his ability to write so he can only reread books as he waits for news about his sister’s whereabouts. Here’s a short list of those books that course through Antonio’s mind throughout Aphasia.
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In Aphasia, Antonio’s future former girlfriend gives him a first edition of Correction, “the best gift anyone had ever given him,” Antonio thinks, “displacing in seconds all the wrongheaded gifts he’d received from former girlfriends throughout the years like thin belts, boxer shorts, franchise coffee, a pillow shaped like a pair of breasts, a snowboard,” and after you’re done giving yourself the best gift anyone has given you, try reading Correction like Antonio did, in a group, out loud, one sentence per person, one shot per appearance of the word Cone, or try reading Correction like I’ve tried to do throughout the years, beginning Correction from a random page, which has shifted my focus depending on the page so that sometimes I notice what I hadn’t notice before, for instance how, despite the formalist prose style of the bile-prone sentences, the narrator shares a warm childhood memory of walking to school with two his friends, one of them (Roithamer) who was to take his own life and who is at the center of Correction.
Even as I write this I can see in my mind the empty house from the Time Passes chapter in To The Lighthouse that I’ve been imagining all these years, an empty house that in Aphasia I’ve given to Antonio, who reads Time Passes before bedtime — “the wind, Antonio reads, sent its spies about the house again” — and who soon after reading Time Passes falls asleep and reenacts a unbearable conversation with his sister in an altered state of cognition.
The problem is finding forms of incoherence that are listenable to, Adam Phillips wrote, and in Aphasia, Antonio analyses this problem in the literature he reads, concluding that incoherence is often made palatable to the reader with humor, and how in the works of Miquel Bauçà the lack of linkage between contiguous statements complicates the text — “the buttonholes on his shirt more and more match the color of his trousers, Miquel Bauçà says, no doubt this is why his wife has finally been able to sing at the opera house” — whereas in most other fictional accounts of incoherence the linkage between most contiguous statements contains no complications, and so perhaps one could conclude, Antonio concludes, that gradations of incoherence equate to gradations of linkage between contiguous statements.
Another perennial reread for this Ecuadorian, the first half of Austerlitz dramatizes not knowing what happened to Austerlitz by having him talk about architecture that’s obliquely related to what happened to him, and although Antonio thinks about the fortresses in Austerlitz when he thinks about a building that’s described to him as the kind where parents deemed dangerous to their children are only allowed to see their children in a regulated fashion — “I dream of that building often, Antonio writes, or perhaps I no longer dream of that building and it has simply become one of the images I have to contend with, in other words it is my building now, a building shaped like the Pentagon or the doomed fortresses of Jacques Austerlitz” — the influence of Austerlitz in Aphasia is structural in that in the first half of Aphasia, which ends with Antonio reading Time Passes and reenacting an unbearable conversation with his sister, Antonio, like Jacques Austerlitz, tries not to think about his sister by discussing subjects obliquely related to what has been happening to his sister.