The Puerto Rican-American writer Giannina Braschi’s 1998 novel (this is the best term I can think of for it, though it is only a novel insofar as that term is now so all encompassing, like a giant, shaggy literary beast somewhere between Cookie Monster and Grendel that devours everything in its path) Yo-Yo Boing! (translated into English by Tess O’Dwyer) is a gripping pastiche of a book that is all about voice rather than plot. The bulk of it is a dialogue between unnamed voices, sometimes between two fairly recognizable personas (a woman and man), sometimes between two indestinct personas that are apparently different than the first two (gender unclear), sometimes between at least three personas that are different than all of those which have come before (at least two of them are women). But the rapid-action dialogue is interesting no matter who is speaking. The dialogue meanders from discussions of poetry to discussions of Puerto Rican politics to discussions of academic politics to discussions of bodily excretions, circling back through these topics several times. The last line is “God, who is dead!”, so the book falls firmly into the postmodernist anti-universal narrative camp. The style is like a Puerto Rican Kathy Acker mixed with some James Joyce mixed with some Ernest Hemingway mixed with just a dash of Samuel R. Delany. This hodgepodge might alienate many readers, but I really enjoy it, and look forward to reading more of Braschi’s work.
Tag Archives: Giannina Braschi
Braschi, Giannina. Empire of Dreams. Trans. Tess O’Dwyer. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.
—. United States of Banana. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.
—. Yo-Yo Boing! 1998. Trans. Tess O’Dwyer. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.
I hadn’t heard of Giannina Braschi until about a month ago when I received an email from amazon.com in my school account (not the account I normally use for my amazon transactions–in other words, they got my contact info from some professional organization, probably the Modern Language Association) advertising these three books and offering me free exam copies. Of course I immediately accepted. They arrived yesterday.
Braschi is apparently a Puerto Rican writer who is now trying to cross over into the English-speaking market. It is interesting that she chose to write her most recent book, United States of Banana, in English. It will be fascinating to see whether there is a noticeable difference in style between this book and the two which have been translated. All three books sound like fun.
It is also noteworthy that amazon.com has begun producing books of their own like bookstores with physical locations such as Barnes & Noble do (the late Borders did so as well). Unlike Barnes & Noble, which generally just reprints classics that are out of copyright, amazon is publishing contemporary authors, which signifies that they are not satisfied with merely being a distributor, but that they want to control the entire publishing process. This is yet another ominous sign for independent bookstores, though I am happy that amazon is at least offering their editions in print rather than just as Kindle downloads.