Sergio Pitol’s ‘The Art of Flight’

“As Pitol weaves together memories, dreams, literary criticism, brief histories of twentieth-century Mexico, and odes to writers he regards as exemplary,The Art of Flight circumnavigates neat categorization. In trying to situate this book both culturally and historically, Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives makes for an obvious if imperfect comparison, alongside Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-part quasi-fictional bildungsroman My Struggle, Ben Lerner’s mesh of fiction and autobiography in Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04, and, with Pitol’s fixation on place, even Hemingway’s memoir-cum-love letter to Paris A Moveable Feast. But despite attempts to locate the book among these, it resists comparison; The Art of Flight has none of the obsessive, Proustian detail of Knausgaard, or the metafiction of Lerner. It resists the light-heartedness of Bolaño’s depictions of youth and escapades, and the moroseness of Hemingway. Instead, it resembles a cloudy gemstone: at once glimmering and opaque, layered and precise.”

Music & Literature has graciously hosted my review of Sergio Pitol’s ‘The Art of Flight,‘ the first of three volumes of memoir, fiction and criticism by the Mexican author, seen here for the first time in English.

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