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A Brief History of Portable Literature

by Enrique Vila-Matas

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Vila-Matas's touch is light and whimsical, while his allusions encompass a rogue's gallery of world literature.

Time Out New York

A reader’s fictional tour of the art and lives of some of the great 20th-century artists and writers

A Brief History of Portable Literature

Fiction by Enrique Vila-Matas

translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead and Anne McLean

An author (a version of Vila-Matas himself) presents a short “history” of a secret society, the Shandies, who are obsessed with the concept of “portable literature.” The society is entirely imagined, but in this rollicking, intellectually playful book, its members include writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, Man Ray, and Georgia O’Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in apartments, hotels, and cafes all over Europe to discuss what great literature really is: brief, not too serious, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in stationary submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe. 

published June 9th, 2015