The 17th edition of Pasadena One City, One Story, drew a healthy crowd at All Saint’s Church Thursday night. The book was In The Distance by Hernán Díaz.
By Garrett Rowlan
The author’s opening speech, presented as lasting 30 minutes but going far beyond that, was a take on how the American West (Diaz’s novel is a Western, though filtered through a sensibility that is European and imaginative) was a tabula rasa, ripe for the imagination of European and English writers.
There is something about the United States that invites fiction.
His own involvement with the Western United States was strictly from the armchair vantage. Professing actual ignorance of the place, Diaz says his involvement was literary. He didn’t “research,” a term he disdained, he read writers of the time and writers that influenced his book: Frankenstein (Diaz’s protagonist is 7 feet tall), Herman Melville, John Muir, and Samuel Beckett, among others.
In the brief Q and A that followed his speech, moderated by Pasadena Library Director Michelle Perera, Diaz’s stated that the book’s “alien” quality comes from the sense of being an outsider, as Diaz’s family were exiled to Sweden from Argentina when he was two years old.
All in all, an interesting 90 minutes well spent.
> The author’s appearance was briefly interrupted by a disturbed individual who was eventually escorted by security.
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