Month after month, Manjar conjures up a reading experience that goes beyond the idea of eagerly receiving a book each month. A book, a postcard, a music recommendation, and a spice come together in a monthly subscription to unleash a multisensory experience, because literature spreads its roots everywhere and some of them can be found in Manjar.
For the December subscription, the choice was Triángulo de invierno by Julia Deck: a woman tired of her routine and ungrateful life decides to change her name and start a new life. For this, she moves from Le Havre to Saint Nazaire and soon meets a man with whom she begins a relationship. But keeping up the lie becomes increasingly difficult. The novel’s narration is as ecliptic as it is hypnotic; the constant change of the narrator’s voice also gives a particular seal to all the environments – all the port cities – that unfold in the story.
What criteria do you use to choose the work for each subscription, and why did you choose Julia Deck’s Triángulo de invierno for December?
Hello! There are several criteria, but one is fundamental: we must really like the book! Apart from that, we try to vary the publishers every month, as well as the tone and themes. We aim for the book not to be too experimental (not all readers are attracted to it), and we pay close attention to the writing style. We also do not deliver classics or widely spread books as an immutable criterion.
The book subscribers receive is a surprise, and we cannot risk them receiving one they have already read. In other words, we look for that gem that shines by itself but did not find the corresponding repercussion at the time. It is a beautiful task, but sometimes very tiring. We spend a lot of time reading during the month, and it is not always easy to find the perfect book that meets the aforementioned conditions.
In selecting TRIÁNGULO DE INVIERNO, there was not much meditation. The book hooked us from the first page: Julia Deck writes fantastically. Her prose flows (another indispensable requirement!) and leads you by the hand. Unlike the profile of the protagonist (who presents herself as a novelist but does not write), you can tell that it is the product of a lot of craft, in addition to being original and highly personal. When you finish it, you see the complete puzzle and how its pieces fit together perfectly. It is an authentic narrative machinery.
How do you choose experiences related to the novel and its author in this case?
From the beginning, we set out to make comprehensive deliveries. That is, the experience is more comprehensive, not exclusively centered on the book, and we build a constellation around it. In addition to the book, subscribers receive a bookmark, a poetic postcard, a culinary spice, a polaroid photo, and 2 recommendations: one musical and one audiovisual. We see the book as a trigger and try to capture its atmosphere. From there, we conduct our research to select each of the elements. For example, in the December delivery, the recommended film was LE HAVRE, by Kaurismaki. The book and the film both depict the same city, and it is interesting to observe the interpretations in different languages made by both artists.
On the other hand, the accompanying polaroid is a photo of Debbie Harry (singer of Blondie) dressed as a sailor and, due to the character’s physique du rol, could easily be illustrating the book’s protagonist. The poem we chose is also somehow evocative of the book’s locations.
When looking through our past subscriptions, you’ll notice that in addition to large publishing houses like Anagrama or the Penguin Random House group, we’re also interested in featuring small, independent publishers. What is our idea behind this?
We don’t have a particular idea, but we’re pleased to see the emergence of so many independent publishers in Argentina in recent years. They have nothing to envy from large multinational companies, and often the best books can be found there, with higher quality editing than from larger publishers. While we consider many variables when selecting a book, including the publisher, it’s not an essential requirement to consider this type of characteristic. In our view, all publishers are part of a larger proposal, and none are more valuable than others simply because they have a larger budget or consider themselves “independent” from dominant players in the market. We focus on finding good books and putting together our own reading catalog.
What inspired us to start this project?
The idea of the subscription service was born before the pandemic. We (there are two of us) worked in a bookstore where there wasn’t a wide range of titles to offer, so we had to be resourceful and proactive with customers. Essentially, we were doing what many booksellers do. But at some point, we realized that we were selling more copies of the books we recommended than those that required press or in-store displays.
The idea of a bookstore that sells only recommended books was the first proposal that emerged. We still believe it’s a good idea. Then the possibility of the subscription service appeared, which better suited the type of work we were looking for. While the idea for the project was born in August/September of 2019, we only managed to launch it in September 2020. We struggled to complete the project due to the strict quarantine that lasted most of that year.
Finally, what do we believe Manjar and Muta Magazine have in common?
Muta proposes an alternative journalism that is outside of official and dominant agendas. The proposal of Manjar, in some way, comes from the same principle. In general terms, we believe that book consumption is organized according to three guidelines: the canon of classic books, new releases, and media dissemination, especially from the hegemonic press and now social media. With our subscriptions, we incorporate a different organizing vector: curation or recommendation, which, in our view, is more genuine and authentic, allowing readers to discover books in a more organic way. We understand that Muta shares this same principle of empathy with Manjar. They prefer articles on topics that resonate with them (and, therefore, may resonate with others) rather than those pushed by the new releases market or the dominant agenda.
Translation by Chatopenia.com.
Revised by Muta Magazine.