I have read Bartleby & Co. 11 times now, with the eleventh completed today. It is an old friend, one I have had with me for about four years now, and one I hope never to properly leave.
Bartleby & Co. and Enrique Vila-Matas are both often described as being for writer’s only, as though a person who identifies as a reader alone will be unable to find any kind of value or entertainment. I disagree with this quite vehemently. Vila-Matas is a reader’s writer through and through.
His novels are not just about reading, they are about obsessive reading. He writes about what it means to read, what it means to have read a thousand, ten thousand books. No always what those books are about, but what reading them does to the reader, and what them being read does to the writer.
This is a book of footnotes for a text that was never written, and these footnotes explain references we haven’t read by way of snapshots of the narrator, of writers, of books. Duchamps, Beckett, Kafka and Walser are touchstones to this piece, but the list of writers – both real and fictional – is long.
This is the first in what will likely become a series of all of the Vila-Matas novels currently available in print, so if you aren’t interested in him… Well.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.