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Miguel Batista on Literary Theory, by Memory

[All quotes are approximate, the recorder was not running for this one.]

Me: Hey Miguel what are you reading.

[Hands me Lost Angel in Spanish]

Me: I have no Spanish — something about an Angel?

Miguel Batista: Lost Angel.

Me: Are you writing something? [handing him back the book]

Miguel Batista: Just finished. A book about the government and their end of times weapon that didn’t work like they thought it might.

Me: Oh. That’s different from poetry.

Miguel Batista: Everything’s different.

Me: What’s your favorite writer?

Miguel Batista: Oh I don’t know… maybe Dan Brown.

Me: Oh. Really? I mean he’s great page turner.

Miguel Batista: He’s very smart. He’s an English teacher. Writing perfect little sentences about a historical story. He writes little bursts, and comes back to the story. He said — It’s not my story; I just wrote about it. Good writing surrounds a lie with truth. He does that. I talk to other writers in Latin America, and they tell me that the work of a writer is not to convince people of something, it’s to create doubt. This thing could be. Brown is a master of that.

Me: … But what about something opposite, something very thick and smart, like Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths?

Miguel Batista: But that’s totally different. Did you know Borges was a literary critic? He wrote about other writing. People don’t know him as a writer of his own stories. Those are good, but totally different.


Miguel Batista: Did you know Garcia Marquez was a reporter? He wrote like a reporter.

Me: Why did I not know that? I’m embarrassed.

Miguel Batista: He was a reporter. So many people, write like where they come from, what they do. Not me.

Me: That’s all I can write, about what I’ve experienced.

Miguel Batista: It’s okay. We all have strengths. Some people do narrative fiction. Some people do autobiographies.

Me: Uh-huh. … You think up ideas out in the bullpen?

Miguel Batista: Some story lines where I marry Angelina Jolie. That’s all we come up with out there.

Me: Writing is very important to me. It’s my passion.

Miguel Batista: It’s different to me.. It’s. Writing is a spiritual thing. Every time you sit down to write, you record yourself. You can go back and look at who you were. You can develop. You can evolve spiritually from writing. Reading is life.

Me: Yeah when I read what I wrote before…

Miguel Batista: Edgar Allen Poe is a genius.

Me: The Tell-Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado...

Miguel Batista: He was the first one to put the end at the beginning. To begin with the end and we all figure it out from there.

Me: Now everyone does that.

Miguel Batista: Now everyone does that.

[Apologies to Miguel Batista was incorrectly quoted in any part of this. This all happened, but I did not have my recorder and I didn’t take notes. This is what I remember later that same day — Miguel Batista, talking literary theory, and somehow convincing me that Dan Brown belongs in the same sentences as Jorge Luis Borges and Isabelle Allende, who factored in but I forget exactly how. We also talked about grandmothers, aliens, religion and the theory of evolution. Batista wrote The Avenger of Blood and a book of poetry in Spanish called Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro, and he has a third one on the way, as he pointed out. If they are half as interesting as talking to the man — and I bet they are — those books are worth a read.]