From Autofiction to Nightmare: A Review of Pola Oloixarac’s “Mona”


I have a friend who often refers to the line from Rachel Cusk’s 2014 Guardian interview, in which she admits that before writing the Outline trilogy, the conceit of traditional fiction, the idea of “making up Jack and Jill and having them do things” suddenly felt “fake and embarrassing.” As autofiction—or at least the idea of the author being starkly present in the book—becomes more and more common in the world of fiction. I wonder why it is that seven years after Cusk’s statement, traditional fiction stills feels so oddly fake and forced at times.  Is it because the need for personal stories, the ones that take us out of a fictional world (one that has stretched to the other realms of life; identities stretch and comingle with our created identities online more than ever) have this intrinsic, vital sense of being urgent that standard fiction lacks? In her work, Cusk seems to bridge the divide between eutrapely (friendly, intellectual conversation that smells of heliotrope as Julio Cortazar writes about in Final Exam) and the real distance we find ourselves living from other people, both physically and emotionally. This bridge is also expertly occupied in Pola Oloixarac’s third novel, Mona, translated from Spanish by Adam Morris. 

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Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s March 2021 Book Preview

March 2021 books

What’s caught our eye when it comes to new books out this month? For whatever reason, a number of intriguing works in translation top that list. Throw in a new memoir from a longtime Vol.1 Brooklyn favorite, an incisive cultural study, and a foray into the city’s history and you have a broader range of what we’re excited about in March.

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