None So Blind by J A Gonzalez Sainz

None So Blind by J A Gonzalez

Spanish fiction

Original title – Ojos que no ven

Translator -Harold Augenbraum and Cecilla Ross

Source – personal copy

I reviewed a couple of books from Hispabooks that published a number of Spanish writers and their books into English based in Spain they broke through a number of the recent writers I have loved Navarro and Barba being two of note that they published first over here. This is the first book by the Spanish writer Jose Angel Gonzalez Sainz to be translated into English he has written a number of novels. He won the Herralde prize one of the big book prizes in Spain. He was the founder and editor of the magazine Archipelago He has also translated a number of works from Italian to English including the works of Claudio Magris with whom he is a good friend. Nine so blind is the first of his books to be translated into English.

Diaz carrion, Felipe Diaz Carrion, knew from an early age, from the first times his father , may he rest in peace, took him along on the road to the field, that Egyptian Vultures were the first vultures to arrive on the scen wherever there was carrion, Genrally they are quiet and quick, his father told him, impressing him to the point of awe, quieter and quicker than anypne else, and despite their large size they don’t make type of dramatic commotion other vultures do, so sometimes they go unnoticed even thpugh they’re always there from the beginning, going about their buisness.

Maybe felipe is like the vulture unnoticed at times a quiet man and his world

The book focuses on the life of Felipe Diaz Carrion a printer that has always work in print shops what we follow is his life the three generations his relationship with his father. His time with his wife. The book follows him leaving his g=hometown and the fields that his family had worked and lived in for many years there is a recurring image of a Vulture and Egyptian vulture that is white and as is point out at a distance looks like a stork at times a motif of life and death this is a story of a quiet man a no one but when he moves North when his wife suggested that they will have a better life and his work life will be better in the Basque region he works at a print shop but is always the outside and the sense of tension there is at the Basque of the time the book is set the height of the recent troubles seems to simmer all around them as things turn for the worse he has a son but they chose to not take the family name of Felipe so we have the third generation of the family with Juan Jose or  Juanjo as he is known growing up in the height of the Basque regions as the famoly start to get involved with the world around them and Felipe often turns a blind eye or maybe doesn’t want to see what is happening around him. This is a story of one man’s life a man with morals in a world of fewer morals a man that tries to do the right thing but is often at odds with those around him.

But the years, now marked by the rhythm of that commute, which had gradually become as familar as his old road to the field, were passing comfortably. Asun, his wife, after a difficult adjustment period seemed to be feeling more and more at home as time went on, and their son- their elder son, because a year after they moved there, they’d had another one, and withthis one he had insited, perhaps for reason of nostalgia, on naming him Felipe – was well into his teenage years and had began not only to go out with his posee of friends but to be out with them at what might call every waking hour, in fact. To him, there was nothing more important at his pose, and no household routine or opinon, or, in any case, not his fathers, held the least valuefor him compared to those his friend would spout.

Caught between tradition and the real world at times

There is a dark shadow over this book with the Basque ETA situation it adds to the world they come to when they move to the Basque region this is a man that seems to lose every way he turns a quiet man that leaves all he knows to move to for a dream. But the reality sinks in the recurring theme of the Vulture is hoovering over is like the death of a family in a way death of a tradition. For me, I was reminded of the undercurrent that I felt visiting Northern Ireland in my youth at the height of troubles the constant sense of undercurrent that was there the normal world that isn’t normal. There is also the ease one can get caught up in the passion and fury that is in that world.

Winstons score – B – an insight into one mans life.

Working Woman by Elvira Navarro

Working Woman by Elvira Navarro

Spanish fiction

Original title –La trabajadora,

Translator – Christina Macsweeney

Source – personal copy

Another of the writers that were on the first Granta best Spanish writer list(note there is a new edition out if it is half as good as the first as there have been so many great writers from the first list) . Elvira Navarro studied philosophy at university and has written six novels and a number of collected stories. She has won many prizes for her writing. She is known for her innovative writing making her one of the leading writers of her generation most of her novels have been translated into English. This is the first book I had read from her.

Then one fall day, Fabio turned up. He was Mexican, thpough no would have guessed it, given his Irish looks. I had kind of an obsession with anything blond{She made a vague gesture, like a Thompson gazelle lying in wait for a camera in a wildlife documentary. I was about to say something, but..} One day my psychoanalyst said I was looking for the child I used to be all the blond men I fell in love with. A second shrink, Jungian this time came out with the idea that I worshipped the Ayran race{I looked at the floor, if susana wanted to beleive her, these ridiculous observations weren’t helping, but on the other hand, the part of me that curiously observed and envied her freedom in constructing an image of herself gave a faint signal of delight, I was accustomed to her exggarations , even to her lies

What is truth is a big part of this book who is real as well !

The book is a story of two roommates Susana and Elisa, Elisa is a copy editor and proofreader that has seen her job shrink and has had to move to a smaller place and then even couldn’t make ends meet she takes in Susana as her roommate. So she has left the center of Madrid and had to move to the outer suburbs. The book flicks between both their lives as at times we see Susana’s life through the eyes of her roommate as she writes down her roommate’s stories. What we see are to women struggling with their lives mental health is touched on the loss of dreams the struggle of life as the two are drawn Elisa is a lost soul as she wanders the town the graveyard both actual and the left behind abandon house half-built dreams in the dead of night. Susana an artist is making maps out of clippings and pieces of the local area. It is a story that sees you at the limit of what is life a woman on the edge is there even two women is Susana a sort of creation for Elisa to live out her fantasies in a way Susana is described in such a way she seems too good to be sometimes !! Is it a friendship or just a dream this is where Navarro does well to tread a line that as a reader you are never sure? Add to that all a relationship with a dwarf !!

Becoming an indepedent contractor had been the first step. Then they started getting behind with my paychecks, only making them promptly when i complained. They used to say this courtsey- meeting their obligations- was a sign of how much they valued me. When winter came around, I hadn’t been paid for two months, and I’d started without much success, testing the waters at other publishing houses.I wirker till late on galleys that left me without the slghtest desire to read to go on looking at the screen, and then I’d need to get outside , walk and have a couple of beers.

The tough publishing world has woirn her down and seen her move out of the city

When I saw on the back cover that Lina Meruane had called her disturbing and had an eye for the unusual I was drawn in and her novel seeing red I loved. This is a story of two women or is it one woman Elisa is failing in her job as she is working on editing a memoir she has a psychiatric condition which she is trying new meds is this all an illusion is Susana a character created to comfort her to inspire her with her tiny maps and her being the opposite of Elisa or is she real. Navarro has drawn the two roommates so well as at times the story goes between them and at times Susana’s story is told by Elisa. Not the easiest read it sees how easy it is for us to all fall into despair and a downward spiral. I do wonder if Navarro is a soft cell fan with the whole dwarf side story reminded me of the song of theirs from the 80s sex dwarf! Have you read her ?  which book would you recommend next?

Winstons score – -A near-perfect gem from a talented writer.

London Under Snow by Jordi Llavina

London Under Snow by Jordi Llavina

Spanish Fiction

original title – Londres nevat

Translator – Douglas Suttle

Source – review copy

I am late to this it was sent last year but I tried to read it during the first long down but I wasn’t in the mood for a subtle work like this is. The writer Jordi Llavina is a Catalan writer and cultural journalist He has hosted a tv show on books and radio shows as well. He has written novels, poems, and short stories and it is with a short story collection we get to read him for the first time in English. He won the Josep Pla prize one of the big book prizes in Spain. This is the second book from the new press Fum d’estampa press that brings a mix of the best in contemporary and classic Catalan literature. Another possibility for the Booker international prize maybe ?

I first arrived London on a Feburary day in 2009. I was thirty years old. Among my persopnal effects I had a black leather notebook like those that Le Corbusier once used to sketch out architectural ideas or to note down some of his theoretical or techincal thoughts . On the second blank page, I wrote a title “London Under Snow (and other reflections) ” in pencil

Five day before I was to set off for the English capita, a colossal snowstorm had set alarm bells ringing and I was worried that the tick blanket of snow shown on the newspapers front pages would turn into s terrible layer of ice- I didn’t realise that the sefvices in London actually work reasonably well snowploughs, workers with reflective jackets and armed with spades and salt all work together to remove the settled snow.

Just as he is to go to Londo it is turned white and the lakes around get frozen up.

The book has six short stories that all have a theme of memory and loss involved in them they blur the line between the writer’s real life and a fictional world. The collection starts with the title story a look back at the first time the writer visited London. A wintery London he describes it being shown that it is snowing in London before he arrives it see him try and get a hat for a friend that is from a costly shop ending up with a fake but then trying to get the original only to try and return years later and the shop is gone. This last part of the story reminds me of when Helene Hanff went to the carcass of 84 Charing ross road. The next story is about a family one a message of a cousin the Andalusian had stopped at his parent’s house many years ago he had shared a room he remembers unpacking his stuff and that he went to live in a small village in Mexico he laments the loss of contact with other family members as his life has moved on. The other stories also see him have a couple that is coping with the grief of losing a baby. Loss of a home with a homeless man. There was another about a man who reminds him of his old drama teacher.

My Andlausian cousin is dead, A few days ago. I received a telegram sent from a post offive in the Mexican village where he had lived since the ninties. It had been sent by a woman with a name that was almost as pretty as that of the village where she had most likely spent the last few years of her life with him. I hadn’t heard anything from him for around a decade and a half but, while we having had little to do with each other’s life, we were quite fond of each other. Three had been a period when he was still living in Andalusia, before the rude interruption of electronic mail, that we would write long letters to one another on a monthly basis.He was eighteen months younger than me and had died [rematurely at the age of Forty-five.

I was remind in this of the end lines of the film standf by me where the narrator of the film talks of his friend chris he hadn’t seen in manyu year but would never forget!

There is a theme of memory and loss around these stories. I am reminded in this collection themes are in that Portuguese word Saudade that is a feeling of loss and longing is hanging here. From a tale of a hat , the notice of the loss of a family member. The style is subtle gentle writing of his life those he has known as I said I struggled to get the voice of him in my head as I read but this time I did. Proust came to mind in the first story the hat was a similar device to that of Proust’s Madeline that unlocks the memory of trying to get the hat for his friend. It blurs the lines of fiction and biography so you not sure it if is the writer’s actual life or just a mere work of fiction. A wonderful intro to a new voice lets hope we get to read some more from this thoughtful writer. Have you read any of the books the Fum d’Estampa has brought out in the last year or so?

Winstons score A-

The No World Concerto by A.G Porta

The No World Concerto by A.G Porta

Spanish fiction

Original title – Concierto del No Mundo

Translators – Darren Koolman and Rhett McNeil

Source – Personal copy

I first came across A G Porta when I started reading up about Roberto Bolano a few years ago as the two were close friends from the mid-seventies and they used to talk about writers when they started and they decided to write a book together which came out in the early eighties. I do hope their joint book comes out at some point even the title grab you Advice from a Morrison Disciple to a Joyce fanatic. Then after this  Porta disappeared for a number of years Bolano said for these years Porta just read and reread James Joyce which I would love to do just have a long time to wallow in Joyce. Since the 99 he has written five novels this is the only one so far to be published in English.Lets hope it isn’t the last to be translated.

The screenwriter stands with his luggage, facing the hotel, having just gotten out of a taxi, thinking he ought to know or at least have a good idead, bow the story he intends to write is going to end. He certainly seen better hotels than this, but today he can’t afford to pay for onem because he no longer gets his advances he used to, and he’s lost a well-paying job teaching literature at a schiool for gifted kids. Now all he has left are some savings and a miserable pension, and he doesn’t now how long they are going to last, for life n the neighbouring country’s capital is so much more expensive that the city he just left.

Maybe Madrid for Paris we don’t know but maybe as he arrives to work on the screen play the screenwriter.

 

The book has a couple of main storylines that at times link and than others seem to follow one another over time. First, we meet an old screenwriter who has shacked up in a hotel after a number of years of writing failures he is writing a screenplay about a young girl that is a piano prodigy who is at the point of becoming a huge talent as she is tasked with taking on one of the most challenging works of a modern composer. So as the story unfolds the tales start to mirror each other as the reality of the screenwriter and the young pianist start to blur as the worlds they are in at times almost touch always mirror themselves. As time seems to move forward and back as at some points they are lovers and others each seems to be working on works about each other this is a book that has so many layers. It is a book that left me wanting for more from Porta in the future which is a good thing.

Her skin, he thinbks while caressing her arm, examing every fine blonde hair, delicate skin, he thinks while envisioning her in a tuxedo, or perhaps just wearing the jacket, double breasted but unbuttoned, with a bowtie around her neck; her mother’s high heel shoes, whichare clearly too big for her, the only other item of clotyhing covering her naked body as she stands before him, aloof and domineering, despitebeing only a girl. Thus the screenwriter imagines her, repenting his decison to get rid of his camera equipment, not that he could realizise vision onstage in the little theater where they rehearse, let alone the church in which they’re going to perform their concerts. He caresses her delicate skin. What does No World mean ?

Is he seeoing her or writing her the lines blur at times as the older man dresses the young girl.

 

The stories remind me of what Borges may have done if he had ever written a novel the mirroring of place and time the blending of the present and future is often something that Borges did in his short stories I was also reminded of those books I have read from Noveau Roman movement there is a sense of removing a sense of place from the book and also making the character’s general. The people are in this book as we are never given any names for the main characters just what they are and though they are in a big city there is no real sense of a single place in the book. The book is considered one of the best Spanish novels in recent years. This is a modern classic from a writer that maybe should be better known in English. He had a big part to play in the early career of Bolano and it is a shame his books haven’t been as widely received as Biolano but he is a writer that is challenging for the reader. Have you heard of Porta and his connection to Bolano?

Winstons score – B

A Luminous Republic by Andrés Barba

A luminous republic by Andrés Barba

Spanish fiction

Original title – República luminosa

Translator – Lisa DIllman

Source – personal copy

I move to Spain for the third book of the year and to a writer I have featured once before Andrés Barba he was one of the Grant list of the best young Spanish writers featured 10 years ago when you look back on that list it has produced many great reviews for this blog over the last ten years. Barba has had four books translated into English, I reviewed Such small hands by him which like this book had very otherworldy themes to it. He been nominated for the Premio Herralde a sort Spanish booker prize and has written 14 books and has translated books into Spanish as well.

The Day I arrived in San Christobel, twenty years ago now, I was a young civil servant with the department od Social Affairs in Estepi who’d just been promoted. IN the space of a few years I’d gone from being a skinny kid with a law degree to a recently married man whose happiness gave him a slightly more attractive air than he no doubt would otherwise havve had. Life struck me as a simple series of advertises, relatively easy to overcome, which led to a death that was perhaps not as simply but was inevitable  and thus didn’t merit thinking about.

Our narrator who got married and then ended up in the town.

The book is the story of a number of children with a language all of their own that Turn up in the town of San Christobel. A small Argentinean town on the edge of the jungle that is starting to go places the story is told from the point of view of a young civil servant when he had arrived with his wife twenty years earlier who has to cope when one by one these children appear. Lawless begging. Then vandalism as they grow in their numbers from a few to 32 unkempt, uncared and like wild animals where are their parents that isn’t really asked as they start to become a real nuisance. As this goes on the locals want something done but when an adult is murdered by them things start to turn against them and the locals start to want something done about the children. But is the reaction of the locals too much? A sort of flipped childhood viewed from the Adult’s side turns children into demons and almost like stray dogs to this small town.

Still, the events laid out by the cheif of police were far from invented; a couple of officers had approached a goup of kids who’d been hanging out in Plaza 16 de diciembre for several days and had robbed several pedestrians. According to one of the officers, the children repled to their questions in “An incomprehensible language” and attacked them when they tired to take the younger of the two – who was about twelve, he claimed to the police station. In the first account the officer maintained that one of the kids had snatched his gun and “fired wildly”, but later the testimony of the witness forced to admit hat the struggle had in fact caused the officer himself to fire accidently/ The bullet hit his parner, Officer Wilfredo Argaz, penetrating the man’s groin, and he’d died several minutres later, opposite the medical facility

The police man intially lied about what had happened with the children to great more fear !!

a lot of people mention lord of the flies in their reviews of this book. But I was more reminded of the feral child in the film Mad max. I view them as like those children having never being civilized the lord of the flies see children descend into Violence but this is more a group of people acting like a pack of apes or the feral child in Mad max films where civilization has lost its boundaries. Like his other book I have, it has children and strange children at its heart the narrator shows the view of them from the outside what happens when they become demoi=nised it is more about what happens when a group is turned on by society rather than asking how and why they got like the way they are? it is a short book but one that leaves you with questions and disturbing by what you have read and in thought about what you would do which is a good thing in a book I always feel.

Rolling Fields by David Trueba

Rolling Fields by David Trueba

Spanish Fiction

Original title – Tierra de Campos

Translator – Rahul Bery

Tonight I bring a bestselling Spanish novel from an acclaimed director and screenwriter David Trueba. He directed the film version of the book Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas. He has also directed a dozen films and has also published a couple of novels. This is his first to be translated into English. In looking up about this book I found on his Spanish publisher there was a spotify playlist the book is formed of two chapters side a and side b. Here is a link to the spotify list. It was also translated by a first-time translator.

We’re normal people. That was absurd way my father used to define us. I fought against it, quietly wishing not be normal, to be special. But I could never shake off the stigma of being normal.

“We’re just regular, normal people, Dani, my boy”

Because in my profession the exact opposite is what’s required. It’s only job where trashing your Cv increases your chances of getting to the top. We once meet Antonio Floresat the fiest in Peniscola, where we played just before him. He was so friendly that we instantly became confidents, despite not knowing him at all.

I like the last line a sort of music story yoiu net someone becomes you are best pals !!

The framing of the book is around a son driving his father’s corpse in a Hearst to his home village across the farming lands of Spain. Dani Masca is forty and is following his father’s last wish. He travels with him and the chatty Ecuadorian driver. But as they head off his thoughts drifts into his own life from a small village a humble town. He grew to be a singer/musician with his two school friends Gus and Animal f=they form a band but they all get caught up in the dark side of the music industry with there first manager and early recording career till they start to take off. Then add to this the loss of his mother at an early age a weird silence about his birth from his family, which later is revealed ! and as the road rolls out the mind of Dani flicks through all these events as well as his wife and two kids. Sex drugs rock and roll as he writes his love song. The memories of the early years the summers with his bandmates and growing up are great. This is a mid-life book that isn’t about a crisis but about a life that has been lived and coping with life.

We soon discovered that our ame belonged to a company owned by The Champo, along wioth the publishing rights for the songs and the sole rights to our forst two albums, as dictated by the contest’s one-sided regulations. This incident inoculated us against futher disappointments of the music world: the enitre advance from the label was spent on buying our freedom and we never got back the rights for those two songs, We also had to pay The Champ compensation in order to keep our name, Las Moscas.

This remind me of the stone rose early sings row with there first record label years ago.

This is a page-turner a good summer read I like it as it has a gentle mix of the family story in the relationship with Dani his parents also later with his wife and kids. Music the spotify list has a number if not most of the songs mention in the book. The band is a sort wart and all look at the music industry with the pitfalls that all bands find whether in Spain or Here the pitfalls of managers’ labels and friends that become bandmates all are of a type. Then the loves of Danis in his Friends, family, and music is at the heart of the book. There is a feeling that this is written by someone in the film industry I’ve read a few novels by filmmakers it is well-paced and you can feel it has a feeling of a film in the way it is paced. An interesting debut in English from a filmmaker and writer. A book for those who do like a fun read It says David Mitchell fans but for me, if Woody Allen had been born in Spain and been a singer in a band this is in his comic vain a mix of what makes life for us all. Have you read a book or seen his films at all?

Vicious by Xurxo Borrazas

Vicious by Xurxo Borrazas

Spanish (Galician) Fiction

Original title – Criminal

Translator – Carys Evans-Corrales

Source – review copy

It has been a while since I have reviewed a book from Small station I had a couple left that they had sent me a few years ago. They have published books from Galician and Bulgarian into English. Xurxo Borrazas studied English at university. He has since translated works by  Henry  Miller and William Faulkner. He has also published six novels This was his second novel. It won a number of book prizes when it came out in Spain. He has had a number of short stories also translated into English.

Chucho Monteiro stops at the side of the road Castrillion, by the ruins of ancient settlement. Carrying a green laurel branch in hishand, he has walked slowly uphil to the oak grove and is now sitting on a stone boundary marker at its edge. Strolling around the countryside in peace and quiet is something his body seems to need and is one of the activites that occupies most of his time. He tucks the branch under his arm, rubs his hands together to dust them off, takes out some tobacco and some matches, rolls a cigarette and lights it. From there he can see the Riba valley and firther on, in the Lendo foothills, the hamlets of Raposeira, Muino and Pitoquers sawmill on the road from San Roman to Nociela

Chucho you get a feel of the place and him as a person returning to his homeland.

A brother returns to the coast of Death as it is called in Galicia is the setting for this as a brother returns to live with his other brother. Chucho the older brother returning to his Younger Brother Daniel. He is settled Married with a child. The older brother left after he felt slighted by his family at times for his younger brother. What happens then is murder but what is clever is both the style Borrazas use it has an air of something from a different time Shakespeare is mention on the cover but yes there is something of that era about the story. Add to that the style of storytelling where we have a sort of swinging view of what has happened as we travel from the foregrounding of the murder what caused it to then the aftermath and being on the run trying to get to freedom. This is a tale of two brothers and a multi-layered book that we see at times from both as viewers and participate in the action.

Our newspaper brings you today the latest information on the horrifying events that have recently shaken Lacha, a municipality located some twent kilometers from Coruna.

Once again an iniquitous legend has taken a turn for the irrational with regard to a multiplemurder that can be described as a crime of passion nor as one motivated by financial or other reasons. It is primeval, instinctive act of violence that grows as it lurks in every corner of the shadowy nooks and crqannies of our villages and rural regions.

A start of a newspaper report into the crime and in has feel of place as well this place is old word in a way still.

This is a clever little novel it has lots of layers and is like entering a labyrinth as we try to find out the full story of the murder but into doing so we have to sort of seeing the prelude and the ending before we get what was the main act of the book. A clever if a different way of telling a crime but also at the heart of the book is the two paths that the two brothers in this book have taken in their respective lives that lead and in some part add to the events in the book.  A sort of preordain destiny at times we have a feeling they are trains on a track and the events in there lives are like stations on the route till they meet and  boom. I wish I had got to this one earlier than I have but it is another gem from Small stations who is run by the translator Jonathan Dunne. Have you read any Galician fiction?

Montano by Enrique Vila-Matas

Montano by Enrique Vila.Matas

Spanish Fiction

Original title – El mal de Montano

Translator – Jonathan Dunne

Source – Personal copy

Well, I reach the second book for Spanish lit month and this time it is from Spain one of our two writers to read in July. I have been a fan of Enrique Vila-Matas for about as long as I have been blogging. I have reviewed four of his book on the blog this is an older book but like his over books have part of Bila-Matas himself in a nod towards being a writer which I have come across in other books by him he is a writer that reminds me of myself he has a love of world literature and that is seen here again.

Today, in Montano’s home in Nantes, having confirmed that he is suffering as a result of his literary paralysis, i tried to amuse him by telling him all these stories of double and doubles’doubles.

“There are concidences and chances” my son remarked,. “From which you die laughing and there are coincidences and chances from which you die£

Didn’t Justo Navarro say that ?

As a narrator he is unreliable as here is a son we discover later was invented by the writer.

The book is narrated by a writer who has to end up as a lit critic as he tries to write that great novel. Montano is his son that suffers from the same love lof lit as the writer himself. So he visits Nates where Montano where he lives as we do this he starts talking about various writers connect to Nantes as The writer’s wife has worries her son has followed her husband down the rabbit hole of lit he is stuck in writing about other writers he has been caught in a loss of his own style. Next, he heads to Chile meets Tonguy a character based on an actor of Vila-Matas own friends.  He then travels to the Azores with a filmmaker. As he returns to Spain we find his son isn’t a real person. It was just something he made up and in the next section of the book he starts talking about writers especially those who kept Journals Witold Gombrowicz who huge Diary I read a number of years ago. Then we have people like  Genet, Virginia Woolf it not there style of writing that he is into but the way they viewed their world around them but as he goes further down a hole of literature as he starts to wrestle with himself and other characters he had read about. It is part diary part journey part road trip and part diary.

Gide, andre(Paris, 1869-1951). In an unintentional way, this writer’s diary tells the story of someone who spent his life seeking to write a master piece and did not achieve it. Or perhaps he did achieve it, and paradoxically that great book would be the diary, in which he reflected the daily search for that masterpiece.

With the possible exception of Paludes- a short work of genius which could have been written by Queneau – the rest of what Gide wrote is fairly illegible nowdays, the modern reader sees it as strange, archaic, distant. The diary on the other hand, hough it falls short of gthe masterpieces of Proust and his contemporaires, is today a liteary milestone, one of the great writer diaries that exist, it is a pleasure to read

An insight into Gide, reminds me I have his journals !

This is like his other books it seems as thou the narrator is maybe the writer himself it is a search for style and substance who one writer can find his or her own style the struggle with conveying everyday life in a way how to avoid the mundane every day but also what does ones own introspection have to other to readers? he is inspired by those writers of the 19th century Genet, Renard that brought realism to the for this is a search for what it is to be a writer.A writer looking for a way out of that maze of being a writer with Writers’ block. I enjoyed this Vila-Matas writes with such passion for literature and use often a shadow of himself I was reminded that this wasn’ t the first novel I had read about writer block there is the wonder boys by Michael Chabon which sees the mania of not passing a block but is still writing a huge bok that he has lost control of like are narrator who has lost that spark that makes him a writer. Another view of losing that way to write.

Mac and his Problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Mac and his problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Spanish fiction

Original title  –Mac y su contratiempo

Translators – Sophie Hughes and Margaret Jull Costa

Source – personal copy

So now on to the second post booker longlist read and it is a writer that has been featured on the blog three times before and his previous book Dublinesque won the old IFFP Shadow jury in 2013. He is a founder of the order of Finnegan named after a pub in Dublin a group of writers meets every Bloomsday to celebrate Joyce. This is another work of metafiction that works on a number of levels. This is his latest work to be translated to English.

I’m fascinated by the current vogue for posthumous book, and I ‘m thinking of writing a fake one that could appear to be “posthumous” and “unfinished” when in fact it would be perfectly complete, Were I to die during the writing process, the book really would be my “Final, interrupted work<” and that would, among other things, ruin my great dream of becoming a falsifier. Then again, a beginner must be prepared for anythingm and I am just that, a  debutant. My name is Mac

The opening lines and the diary is to serve as an entry to the book he is thinking of writing

This on the surface is the story of a man entering his retirement and deciding to write daily diary about his world and the world around him > The Man Mac has long held the idea of being a writer and since he know has a lit of time on his hands which means he finally has chance to write although his wife Carmen has a suspicion this will all amount to nothing. But mac push on as it is one of the hottest summer in Barcelona his neighbor Starts to wonder why when he gets a collection of short stories from his Neighbour Sanchez that he wrote a number of years ago these stories all to have echoes of other writers as he reads the.collection it mirrors his own life and then his life is getting repetitive the problem is to make is a well-read reader and the works all start to have a feeling of other writers and we see the real and fiction worlds blur and the writers writing blur. As mac dives further into a world of literature as the heat rises his life becomes more like a novel and his diary is having the feeling of a novel, not a diary.

A little early-evening prose. I’ve had my three customary afternoon nips and consulted the horrorscopr in my favourite newspaper. I was astonshed when I read this in the box for my sign. “For Aries, the sun in conjuction with mercury suggest brilliant intuitions that will lead you to belive this prediction and think it;s especially for you

Whoroscope! This time the prediction really did seem to be meant especially for me as if peggy day – the pseudonym of the lady responsible for the horrorscope – had some how gotten wind of my mistake last week

Here is one of the firstg example of how he reads more into things and blurs lines at times

I like this in Parts I love that Vila-Matras is always so enthused about other writers and the works he is a writer that use books and literature as a springboard for his works her it is the danger of writing a diary but having a wish to be a new writing talent but as the book unfold it. We see a man that is drowning in words and novels but as the book goes on the old stories mirror his present and his diary is in the trouble of drowning into a void of fiction as his life cross from the real to the fictional. I felt this was a great idea for a book the references to those great writers the book feels like an idea too far if you know what I mean it has so many twists and turns it isn’t just as snappy as some of his other books which I have loved but I may come back at some time reread it and read a lot of the books and writers that the tales are meant to be like to maybe grasp more of the story. An interesting idea that maybe could be revisited at some point. What did you think of this one ?

Scar by Sara Mesa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scar by Sara Mesa

Spanish fiction

Original title  – Cicatriz

Translator – Adriana Nodal-Tarafa

Source – personal copy

I am back on with Spanish Lit month but also another for Women in translation month. Here I have one that ticks both boxes a Spanish novel from the writer Sara Mesa. The translator chooses to translate this book after reading a copy at a Dalkey archive applied for a literary translator program when she was given this book to read and after reading it new she wanted to Translate it.  She has written a number of novels they all seem to have similar themes to this of male to female relationships and the power within them. She has been a finalist for the Heralde prize in the past and has lived in Sevilla since childhood.

They discuss their childhoods ofteb. They hadsimilar experiences. They get excited telling about their memories, as if they were trading cards. Public school. Working class neighbourhood. Pelikan pencil cases, seasame street, blue sports jackets with white stripes, La piara ham pate for afternoon snack. Sonia scans a childhood picture for him, hoping to get one from him in exchange where she can make out his current features.

The two have a lot in common and chat about there childhoods.

Scar is a story of two characters. Sonia, she is an ordinary woman and goes on the internet chatting in a forum about literature. As she tries to escape her boring life as a data processor entering figures in a computer. So she becomes someone else at night. she meets the mysterious Knut Hamsun we never know his real name. The two starts by talking and over time a relationship develops. He starts to try and get her to write better with first packages of books from writers and also about how to write. But over time he starts to try and get Sonia into other positions by sending her lingerie expensive La perla, she thinks he stole them more and more come and he starts to try and get her mind as he sends more and more CDs, lingerie, perfume even then shoes stockings as the gifts pile up and this odd relationship gets strange as she is both drawn to this man and then scared about what he really wants. from her. She in the time of there relationship marries but after time the relationship with Knut begins again.

The amount you are able to read is amazing, she tells him. Knut comments extensively about Proust. He doesn’t stop insisting that she should read him too, but not just part of his work, not just one book, his entire oeuvre. He suggests that they study him together, that they analyze his work in depth. I would like nothing more in this world than thatr he sayshe claims to have read Buddenbrooks in five days, the brothers Karamzov in four. In another email he copies marge segments of Against the grain and asks her what she thinks of des Essintes’s views.

They both love books and she admires how well read he is

Sara is another of the talented writers to have emerged from Spain in recent years. This is a novel that brings to life a corner of the modern world that hasn’t been touched in literature much that of the online relationships the world has moved on so much in the last twenty year a fair few relationships start online now. This work also shows the dangers of that world. in Sonia and Knut we see a power relationship as Knut lavishes gifts on Sonia a woman caught in a boring world trying to get out of it is a perfect catch for this man. This is a man obsessed with Sonia and also he really wants to model her by sending her the lingerie although she h=never feels right in it and often it never fits her probably. It touches those dark corners of the human world as this is a story of codependents as much a Knut is a dark figure in this book Sonia also wants Knut. This is a wonderful insight into a new world of online forums and what happens when people meet and fall in love or in a co-dependency! Have you read this book or any of the Dalkey Spanish lit series?

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