In November of 1960 the Argentine writer Rodolfo Walsh decoded a cable accidentally received by a telex machine in the Havana offices of the news agency Prensa Latina, where Walsh worked alongside Gabriel García Márquez. The cable was a communiqué from a Guatemalan military base to the CIA in Washington, D.C. about plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Walsh informed Fidel Castro of the news, and the rest of the story is world history. But is it also world literature? This talk examines what led Walsh to decode the telex message in Havana, that event’s consequences on the category of literature, and Walsh’s subsequent creation of a new global form: the tape recorder novel.
Tom McEnaney is assistant professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His work in media studies, sound studies and Latin American literature has appeared in Cultural Critique, Variaciones Borges, The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, La Habana Elegante, and elsewhere. He is currently completing his first book Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas. He will be presenting The Art of Reception: Computing, Cryptography, and the Tape Recorder Novel in Latin America on Wednesday, November 18 in 14E-304 at 5pm on behalf of MIT Global Studies and Languages.