With My Dog Eyes: A Novel

With My Dog Eyes: A Novel

by Hilda Hilst
     
 

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Hilda Hilst (1930–2004) was one of the greatest Brazilian writers of the twentieth century, but her books have languished untranslated, in part because of their formally radical nature. This translation of With My Dog-Eyes brings a crucial work from her oeuvre into English for the first time.

With My Dog-Eyes is an account of an

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Overview

Hilda Hilst (1930–2004) was one of the greatest Brazilian writers of the twentieth century, but her books have languished untranslated, in part because of their formally radical nature. This translation of With My Dog-Eyes brings a crucial work from her oeuvre into English for the first time.

With My Dog-Eyes is an account of an unraveling—of sanity, of language . . . After experiencing a vision of what he calls “a clear-cut unhoped-for,” college professor Amós Keres struggles to reconcile himself with his life as a father, a husband, and a member of the university with its “meetings, asskissers, pointless rivalries, gratuitous resentments, jealous talk, megalomanias.”

A stunning book by a master of the avant-garde.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/31/2014
This first English-language edition of Hilda Hilst's (The Obscene Madame D) tart 1986 novella aims to introduce the cult Brazilian writer to a wider audience. Translator Adam Morris's fine introduction provides the necessary context to appreciate Hilst, an author, poet, and playwright noted for having her love of dogs. Here she addresses "the nexus she believed existed between genius and madness, poetry and mathematics." The thin narrative concerns Amos Keres, a professor asked to take a leave of absence in part for pausing 15 minutes between sentences in class. Written in a stream of consciousness style where word associations create rhythms and suggest meanings, Hilst's lyrical little book ebbs and flows with vivid imagery, from "a surface of ice anchored to laughter" to a certain smile described by the "little crease on the side of a face." The experimental narrative is interrupted throughout with diverting short stories, haikus, and poetic digressions. A section on polyhedrons is clever, as is a couplet about Keres being a "doctor of numbers but starved of letters." There is even an amusing debate about a man about to be hanged wanting to catch some zzz's. Readers will enjoy this taste of Hilst's talent, but many will find themselves still hungry. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“Told through poetic and disjointed prose, With My Dog-Eyes is a dark and truly singular work.”
NPR, Best Books of 2014

“Hilst’s writing is characterized by an exuberant, masterful impropriety and winding sentences that put it, by her own lights, squarely in the tradition of literature that includes Joyce and Beckett.”
Boston Globe

“A pleasure to see and read.”
NPR

“A slim but potent text, this one will sear your brain."
Jeff Vandermeer picks the Best Fiction of 2014, Electric Literature

“Hilst rigorously examined the limits of language and the literary pursuit itself… [She] uses language like a rod, ramming it every which way in order to collapse the space between orgasm and insanity.”
Bookslut

Best Fiction Books of 2014
Entropy Magazine

“Clear and unforgettable… It is certain that Hilst’s short book by the end grows as large as the dilating heart."
Rain Taxi

“Hilst’s fictions are feats of economy and compression: though they are short…the texts do not feel small… One of the great achievements of Hilst’s fiction is indeed the splendor that wrenches the reader, too, from sameness, the way it challenges and provokes, with a seriousness and irreverence, a comedy and bleakness all its own.”
Music and Literature

“A provocative and engaging personal portrait… Worth your time.”
Complete Review

“Rich, deep, unique, and avant-garde… With My Dog-Eyes is a great introduction to the work of a writer who occupies an important place not only Latin American letters but in world literature as well.”
Atticus Review

“Captivatingly translated...a densely allusive novella by the late Brazilian writer Hilda Hist, traces the coming undone of a mathematics professor, and is too brilliantly bizarre to quote at length."
Times Literary Supplement (UK), Books of the Year

“Hilst wastes no time in plunging into the most intense, mysterious stuff of life…dazzling moments.”
The Independent (UK)

“Conveys the ferocious energy of this modern master of disturbance… [A] joyfully wicked writer… Morris’s translation deserves the highest praise; the constant shifts in perspective call for tremendous agility.”
Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“Hilst’s lyrical little book ebbs and flows with vivid imagery… Readers will enjoy this taste of Hilst’s talent.”
Publishers Weekly

“This novel speaks to the nexus between genius and madness—and it gets off a few growls at the state of things as they are. Memorable and very strange: Latin American magical realism taken far beyond the bounds of the genre’s usual whimsy.”
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Hilda Hilst and The Obscene Madame D

“Like her friend and admirer Clarice Lispector, Hilda Hilst was a passionate explorer of the sacred and the profane, the pure and the obscene.”
Benjamin Moser

“This brief, lyrical and scalding account of a mind unhinged recalls the passionate urgency of Artaud and de Sade’s waking dreams in which sex and death are forever conjoined and love’s ‘vivid time’ irretrievably lost.”
Rikki Ducornet

“May just be the literary miracle of 2012 . . . The Obscene Madame D stands at only 57 pages and yet manages to offer the reader a truly immersive experience unlike any of the classic tomes that brim with words.”
Alex Estes, Full-Stop

“In the sense that language is a cultural and political construct, Hilst breaks that construct and, in doing so, asks us to hear life’s eventual silence.”
Sarah Gerard, Los Angeles Review of Books

Library Journal
12/01/2014
Forced to take a leave of absence from teaching because his students "aren't understanding anything anymore," mathematics professor Amós Kéres is clearly in the middle of some kind of breakdown. The late Hilst, a leading figure in 20th-century Brazilian literature, shows us a mind unhinging as she lays out Amos's obsessive and increasingly surreal search for meaning beyond the obvious. Coolly delivered, with depth instead of histrionics, so that we understand we'd be right there with him if only we stopped to think.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-03
A slender, surrealism-tinged tale of fear, loathing and transformation, the third novel to be published in English translation by Brazilian writer's writer Hilst. Born near São Paolo in 1930, Hilst, who died in 2004, was an odd character indeed: trained as a lawyer, obsessed with Marlon Brando, a lover of dogs and devourer of libraries, hermit and alcoholic. She also had a sticky memory, and everything she read and observed, it seems, found a way into her writing, though often with absurdist shadings: In Letters From a Seducer, published in English translation by Nightboat Books in March, she speculates that the police hunt down and kill the disappeared "in order not to give them more work later on." (Come to think of it, given Brazil's recent history, that may not be so absurd after all.) The present book scarcely qualifies as a novella, but its pages are densely packed with meaning. "Whorehouse Church Government University. They all looked alike": So grumbles the protagonist, Amós Kéres, a professor whose mind rattles with visions, images and loose quotations from Bertrand Russell and Elias Canetti but who wants to be otherwise engaged, it seems: "There are books all over the place," he says, "and I can't interest myself in them any longer." Thus, in appropriately Kafkaesque fashion, does Amós begin a transformation that puts him "[b]eyond the other side of the mirror" and finds him in distinctly different form, though not without a few troubling, adult-rated visits ("Get drunk every night, and vicious, sputtering, shake my dick timetotime for Amanda's friends…") to points of interest in his biography and personal geography. Conceived in the early 1980s, as translator Morris documents in his lucid introduction, this novel speaks to the nexus between genius and madness—and it gets off a few growls at the state of things as they are. Memorable and very strange: Latin American magical realism taken far beyond the bounds of the genre's usual whimsy and pushed into the territory of nightmares.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781612193458
Publisher:
Melville House Publishing
Publication date:
04/29/2014
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,322,911
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.40(d)

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