Ways of going home by Alejandro Zambra

ways of going home by Alenjandro Zambra

Ways of going home by Alejandro Zambra

Chilean fiction

Original title Formas de volver a casa,

Translator – Megan McDowell

Source Review copy

I have read him before Kim from reading matters sent me The private lives of trees a couple of years ago ,I read it but never review it so with Spanish lit month  in July I decided to review this now and The private lives of trees .Alejandro Zambra is a Chilean born writer he studied in Chile  a degree in Hispanic languages  ,and currently teaches in Santiago and contributes to magazines and papers in Chile his first novel was describe stunningly as “The publication of Bonsai … marked a kind of bloodletting in Chilean literature. It was said (or argued) that it represented the end of an era, or the beginning of another, in the nation’s letters” in El Mercurio .

THE NIGHT OF THE EARTHQUAKE I WAS SCARED

But I also, in a way enjoyed what was happening .

In the front yard one of the house ,the adults put up two tents for the children to sleep in ,and at first it was chaos because we all want to sleep in the one that looked like an igloo

As I said halves scared /but enjoyed

SO we get to ways of going home it is one of those short novellas that seem much longer and deeper after you have put it down if you know what I mean .It’s a book of memory and halves .The book is in two section we meet a young boy in the dark days of Pinochet’ s regime ,but our narrator has a fairly normal life as it appears to him in fact if anything slightly boring ,but then there is an earthquake and almost like the Shibbolth artwork (the crack in the floor of the turbine hall of Tate modern Doris Salcedo a fellow Latin american ),out of this crack  of the earthquake appears Claudia a slightly older girl than him, we  sense our narrators immediate attraction and liking of this girl as he spies on her from afar but getting closer  ,they get to know one another and she gets him to look at her uncle to she what he is up to.No as quickly as she appears, no sooner  has her and her family disappeared from his life but he never forgets her  ,til they meet in adult life  ,he is full of remorse for the violence of the Pinochet years and how him and his family didn’t do a lot ,Claudia family did that is why she went ,find out how these two getting together changes our narrators life for ever .Also what really happened during those years though unspoken at times is always lurking in the background .

When I was a child I liked the word Blackout .My mother would come and get us and bring us into the living room.”In the past,people didn’t have electricity “, she would say as she lit the candles .It was hard to imagine a world without lamps , without outlets in the wall .

As an adult remembering the past .

I said this is a book of memories our narrator rather like my self ,ok I didn’t have a violent dictatorship ,but had a bad divorce of my parents a step father I didn’t get on with and a being clumsy skin and tall was a target for bullying .But now as I look back on my younger years these events thou there are second place to family holidays ,evening spent with friends ,day trips in fact all the best bits .I feel this is our narrators problem his is the reverse as a child to him it all seemed wonderful he almost blanked out the bad parts ,til they reappeared in adulthood .I also said halves well-being young /being old ,being safe /having to run ,being quiet like the narrators parents / speaking out like Claudia’s  parents ,moving on /not forgetting.Also the shadow of the dark days of being Chilean in the 80’s looms large in the background   .Zambra is a writer of true  style in fact that sparse writing style that yet seems fuller ,like Carver did in his short stories the novella has been worked to a delicate lace of words that thou fragile and thin is truly beautiful .

Have you read Zambra ?

Do you have a favourite Chilean writer ?

Advertisements

U&I by Nicholson baker

U&I BY Nicholson Baker

Literay non- fiction

Granta books

Nicholson Baker is an american writer ,I reviewed Vox a few weeks ago as part of the new Granta reissue series and now bring another from the four reissued books with their lovely Village green designed covers .

So U&I what is it about ,well it is about John Updike (a point to note here for the readers is I share a birthday with mr Updike so have a huge soft spot for him ) it is about John Updike books yes and no ,is it about John Updike the man well yes and no ,this book is hard to pin down to a non fiction category ,the book starts with Baker deciding to write a piece for the Atlantic magazine about Updike but as he starts on this it obviously grows into this book .Baker takes us on a journey through his mind and how his mind has absorbed John Updike’s works and his numerous interviews he has read over the years .As we go along this path we dart here and there into Bakers wider reading habits and how he interacts with books and how he has viewed Updike’s criticism in the past ,Updike was a great critic in his day and some one who you feel Baker admired .Now your asking did they know each other well they meet once at a Harvard lampoon party where he got Updike to sign a copy of rabbit is rich ,he was amazed to find out that Updike had read one of his short stories .

AT the offices of the Harvard lampoon ,in november 1984 ,I sprang out in front of him near a plate of ham cutting as he was hurrying leave the post Harvard-Yale game party .

Baker braving first meeting

Hi I’m Nick Baker

I’m John Updike

I know

and they chat briefly

SO what did I make of this book ,I loved it ,I like Bakers loose stream of consciousness style in the book ,it feels like you’re in his head holding a conversation with him ,this is definitely a bibliophile’s book as it is so full of book love ,he mentions so many books and why he likes them I feel I got a hold new insight into some books I ve missed by his slight mentions of them ,as for Updike and I ,the I in this case being me Stu the writer of the blog ,well I ve read four of his book like most people three of them are the rabbit books ,which I feel are the best insight into the  post war american experience the other is the eastwick book .I ve a few of his other books on my shelves am I in a rush to read not really I have a soft spot as mention but I also have another 40 plus years hopefully in front of me to get to them so like Baker who has also not read Updike’s Cannon ,I m in no rush to tick him off my read list as I want to experience Updike for years to come and also I feel the same about Baker so the review of the other two reissues will be a some point in the future .

Have you read this book ?

Have you read Updike ?

Next Newer Entries

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
%d bloggers like this: