John Reed with Miguel Angel Hernandez
To be a critic is to be an immigrant in one’s own country. It is to seek the new in the oh-so familiar. It is to insist on understanding when judgment comes easily, and seek surprise and the overturning of one’s own certainties. It is to want to be wrong. To prefer to be wrong.
Perhaps that’s what drew me to Miguel Angel Hernández’s novel Escape Attempt, recently translated by Rhett McNeil for an English language edition from Hispabooks. The narrative tells of a suspicious box — part of an artist installation — and a missing immigrant, and a moral conundrum that is well beyond the arbitration of our coiled cerebellum and our snaky self-justifications. I saw, in Escape Attempt, the high-wire act of a novelist and critic; a creative performance of engaging every question while deferring every answer.