Uppsala woods by Alvaro Coloomer


Uppsala woods by Alvaro Colomer

Spanish fiction

Original title – Los bosques de Upsala

Translator – Jonathan Dunne

Source – review copy

I never realised the lengths I’d have to go,
All the darkest corners of a sense I didn’t know.
Just for one moment, I heard somebody call,
Looked beyond the day in hand, there’s nothing there at all.

Now that I’ve realised how it’s all gone wrong,
Gotta find some therapy, this treatment takes too long.
Deep in the heart of where sympathy held sway,
Gotta find my destiny, before it gets too late.

I chosen the last two verses of 24 by Joy Division as they maybe reflect Ian curtis mind for those of you that don’t know he commit suicide shortly after record the bands second album.


Now my second book for this years Spanish lit month is from a Spanish based publisher Hispabooks  whos motto is a great one for Spanish lit month I feel Spanish literature for worldwide readers isn’t this just what this month is about . I have read two books by them and enjoyed them both there is a number on their site to check out .Alvaro Colomer is a journalist reporting on such things as prostitution .this book is the last part of a rough trilogy of urban death . Also according to his spanish wiki page he is a huge Thomas Bernhard fan ( aren’t we all lol ) . This is his first book to be translated into English and I am only a year late in reviewing it .

My wife isn’t hiding under the bed , or behind the shower curtain , or anywhere else in this apartment , but she has left her bag on the coffee table , so te only place she could be is at the neighbour’s house , This old woman who lives in apartment two on the seventh floor .

Julio maybe for the first time glimpse what is to come with Elena here when he arrives home and she isn’t there

Uppsala woods deals with a married couple Julio and Elena . Elena tells her husband she is losing the will to live , she wants to die . This is the story of the days that follow him finding out his wife no long wants to live and how he goes to work every day and pictures coming back to her hanging from the centre of their house which is built-in the shape of the cross . This shows how the Husband tries to stop Elena getting drawn further into the darkness and what do you do when you can’t stop this happening .What happens when he returns on their wedding anniversary and there is no one there it seems ? Why has she suddenly hidden in their closet

All of a sudden three days have gone since my wife sought the confines of the closet . In all this time , we have avoided talking about what happened , letting the television chat in our place and even turning a deaf ear when , on a tabloid talk show , a guest described his grotesque attempt to hang himself using his mother’s pantyhose .

Suicide and mental illness are two of the hardest things to talk about maybe more books like this would make it less of a taboo .

Now I have made this seem doom and gloom , but no this is maybe a spanish cousin to Bernhard Julio is like a Bernhard character in that laconic way of trying to battle his wife’s depression . Julio is a classic Bernhard male in the way he views the world  in terms of black and white .But never quite getting it right he is an entomologist so sees the world maybe to black and white where as Elena is firmly caught in the grey of the world getting drawn ever closer to the Black abyss . I like how he tackled death and Suicide here it is a subject not often touch on in fiction in the right way .As Julio tries to hold on to his wife by holding in safety . Also the allusion to the church in a subtle ways the house being built-in a cross and Elena may die in (or on the cross ) so to speak .Powerful book I hope Hispabook publish the other two books in this trilogy .

Have you a favourite book dealing with mental health ?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Jul 08, 2015 @ 18:18:22

    “The Bell Jar” is probably my favourite. But this sounds great Stu!


  2. jeff_lyn
    Jul 10, 2015 @ 10:15:43

    Just read this and thought it was excellent, I found it quite emotional in parts and kept thinking on some of the things he wrote for days afterwards. It was a great pace and littered with some very funny lines also. Great review Stu and agree we need the rest of his work translated . Spanish lit month is throwing some great reads out.


  3. 1streading
    Jul 10, 2015 @ 20:53:24

    You have made it sound bleak – but that won’t put me off! The premise sounds really interesting.
    I’m also reminded you said you might be hosting a Bernhard readalong this year – are you still planning to?


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July 2015


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