A Writer With Cojones

Billectric thought you might all enjoy this interview with Felipe Alfau. Here are some choice lines:

ILAN STAVANS: Why did you become a writer?

FELIPE ALFAU: I am not a professional writer. Only by necessity have I ever received payment for my work. Dalkey Archive Press offered money for my two novels but I refused to accept it. For my poems I received $500 because I needed to pay the monthly payment here, in the retirement home. The truth is, I was never interested in writing, nor did I ever dream of making a living at my craft. I hate full-time authors. I hate intellectuals that make a living from abstractions and evasions. The art of writing has turned into an excess. Today, literature is a waste. It should be abolished, at least in the form we know: as a money-making endeavor.

IS: How do you think writers should support themselves?

FA: I am not sure, but certainly not by selling their books as jewelry.

IS: Yet I know you first submitted “Locos” to a New York publisher for financial reasons. You wrote it in English because you needed money.

FA: Who doesn’t? And when I got a job, a stable job, I took the manuscript back. It was scheduled for publication under the title “Madrilenos.” I changed my mind and asked the editor to return the text.

IS: Had it been accepted?

FA: Yes. It was already in galley form.

IS: And you took it back?

FA: I didn’t need the money anymore. I had a wife and a daughter, and enough to support them.

6 Responses

  1. thanks, Rubiao…… for
    thanks, Rubiao…

    … for bringing this article to my attention elsewhere on this site.

  2. refreshingInteresting excerpt

    Interesting excerpt — refreshing to see a writer who writes purely for the love of the craft. I would love to read the entire interview.

  3. yeah…Alfau’s political

    Alfau’s political opinions are a little disturbing…I have been wanting to get my hands on some of his books, his writing sounds fascinating and innovative despite the questionable politics. I guess sometimes greatness comes with a facade of bigotry and totalitarianism… Pound, Eliot, Mishima etc. etc.

  4. ShameIt’s too bad he died

    It’s too bad he died (unnoticed) a few years ago. His first book Locos is an absolute gem and sort of a prequel to his other book (some characters overlap). Luckily it comes complete with instructions on how to read it just so there is no confusion. Every minute since I finished Chromos the book rises tremendously in my memory. Very recommended reading if you get the chance. And Locos is a great place to start because it is short and sweet. Oh so sweet!

  5. I agree with that — I don’t
    I agree with that — I don’t know much about this writer but I googled him after reading this article and learned that he’s as famous for his loud-mouthed racist opinions as for his writing.

    I wish we could find a writer with cojones who isn’t also a jerk in real life — still, his work sounds interesting and I’m going to keep an open mind and check his stuff out, for what it’s worth.

  6. I regret that I didn’t know
    I regret that I didn’t know much about Alfau when I posted this. He seems to indicate later in that interview (which is linked to my post) that he had racist views when he was much younger and that he changed later. Maybe I want to believe that because his outlook on getting published was so liberating to me when I read it. I eagerly accepted his word that he is not anti-semite and attributed his statement about Blacks to being very ignorant in his youth, but I certainly glossed over his complaint about “all the immigrants.”

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