Octavio’s Journey by Miguel Bonnefoy

 

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Octavio’s journey by Miguel Bonnefoy

French fiction

Original title – Le Voyage d’Octavio

Translator – Emily Boyce

Source = review copy

I hope to reach 100 french books under review on the blog this year and one of those publishers that has helped me reach that total is Gallic books they mainly publish french fiction and this is the first book by them I have reviewed this year and it is one that was a runaway success in france for a debut novel . Miguel Bonnefoy was born to a Venezuelan Mother and a Chilean father he spent his childhood in France, Venezuela and Portugal this book was on the longlist for the Prix Goncourt for a first novel .

Don Octavio was born of this land,

He lived on the hillside in a modest , flimsy , slate clad house to which he held no deeds. The space must have formed a single room, was decided into a living room and bedroom ,  wardrobe stood beside a glassleess, curtainless window typical of the tropics , with a camp bed and rush-seat chair nearby. At the back of the living room , candles burnt on a little altar, casting flickers of light on the walls. Apostle figures were carved into beroom handles and also etched on glass which had been filed with rum to guard against misfortune . The scent of wild herbs hung in the air

His humble home was a simple beginning for Don Octavio

This is one of those books that maybe short but seems much longer the book follows the life of Octavio , we meet the young boy as he is unable to read as he is sent by the doctor to the chemist luckily whilst embarrassed a woman named Venezuela like his homeland opens this young boys eyes to the power of words as the two fall in love , Don Octavio grows and we drift into the past of his homeland as the church arrives land is saved by a lemon tree that is seemed as a miracle . Then Don Octavio journey to the heart of his country and the jungle and sees how the country is and decides to stay there .This is one mans journey to the heart of his country and feeling in doing that .

Venezuela suffered from acute insomnia , which meant that for the past twenty years she had to nap at odd times of the day . She had grown used to irregular bedtime, sometimes eating in bed and getting up in the ,middle of the night roam her apartment. the doctor advised ger to stop taking her sleeping pills. Out of embarrassment, she began avoiding pharmacies where she might be recognised and ventures out to the little chemists shops in the suburbs where she could buy what she needed unnoticed amid the anonymity of the crowd

The woman who teaches Don Octavio to read but is she also an allegory for the home land in recent years .

This is of course a book that owes a lot to Marquez and even in someway I felt Calvino . There is a magic realism at work When Don Octavio seems to move back through the history of his homeland and that is what is at the heart of this book an ode to Venezuela , we here much of their recent trouble this is a look back at what is the beauty at the heart of the country a woman , the forest and the chance to make something of yourself like Don Octavio he is maybe a sign of what can happen in Latin America where one can become someone from none . Another books I was reminded of is G Cabrera Infantes book a view of dawn in the tropics which also like this book mixed fiction with the history of his homeland in Infante’s case Cuba here we see Bonnefoy in an ode to his homeland and a fable like tale of what was and maybe a feeling that is lost . This is under hundred pages long a perfect evening read .

 

 

 

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Leaf storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

leaf storm by Gabriel garcia Marquez

Leaf storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Columbian fiction

Original title – La Hojarasca

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – Personnel copy

From the memory of that house ,and using his grandmother’s narrative voice as his own Linguistic Lodestone ,Marquez began building of Macondo

Salman Rushdie from his essay collection Imaginary homelands on Marquez

Well this is the first of a number of books I intend to review by Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,we lost this giant of Spanish language and Latin American writing earlier this year ,so it seemed fitting to focus for a few days in this times Spanish lit month on his books ,plus it will give me chance to add a few more to the two I have already reviewed here .In a side not I will be carrying on a bit into August with Spanish lit month so if you Haven’t had time to read something or would maybe like to cross over with Women in tranlsation month .

I’ve seen a corpse for the first time .It’s wednesday but I feel as if it was sunday because I didn’t go to school and they dressed me up in a green corduroy suit that’s tight in some places .Holding Mama’s hand ,following my grandfather ,who feels his way along with a cane with every step so he won’t bump into things .

The opening lines the grandsons view of the doctors funeral ,I really felt the kids voice here .

 

SO Leaf storm is the first book I’ve choosen by Marquez because in a way ,although not his first book it is the one that is readily available Marquez did write a book before this but it isn’t readily available .This book also saw the first appearance of the Village of Macondo which appeared in a lot of his later and more famous novels .This book also has a number of characters that Marquez uses in other books ,the first and main character in the book is an old man known in the village as Colonel ,the story centers around a promise he made to the village doctor many years before the book opens as this doctor ,who as an outsider was never really trusted within the village has died and over the years also fell out with other people .So it is left to the old Colonel to bury this man .Then there is the Colonel daughter Isabel ,who is obliged to help her father bury this man .Then there is the grandson of the Colonel he views this death with the mind of a young man ,with wide-eyed interest as he hasn’t seen death much before .So whilst honour his promise we see why the doctor end up the most hated man in the village .This leads to conflict as even thou the Colonel is a respect figure in the village ,no one wants to see the Doctor honoured with a decent funeral .

Even though he hoped it would be the opposite ,he was a strange person in town ,apathetic in spite of his obvious efforts to seem sociable and cordial .He lived among the people of Macondo ,but at a distance from them because of the memory of past against which any attempt at rectification seemed useless .

It was always hard for the doctor ,but aren’t villages always this way to incomers ?

Now this is a must for any one that has read his main novels as it is the first time we get to meet the village of Macondo .But it is also less steep in the magic realism of the later books this feels more like one of the original stories that Marquez heard of course Macondo is based on the Village his own grandmother  lived , we see the infant Marquez I feel in those first lines  and the settings is his own childhood  , the stories he heard from them as a child live on in this and his other books .The Colonel is a figure that crops up again and again in his novels the old man looking back at life and facing his own death in this case through the death of his old friend the doctor .Florentino as old man in love in the time of cholera or Jose in One hundred years of solitude .The narrative style is also clearly seen here ,I always think this is Marquez true gift ,we start the story as the doctor has died then through out the book see what happened and what happens as the two lines of the story twist and turn along we see how the past lead to the present and the tough words in the opening few pages become clear .

Have you read leaf storm ?

Memories of my Melancholy whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

memories of my Melancholy whores

Memories of my Melancholy whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Columbian fiction

Original title – Memoria de mis putas tristes

Translated by Edith Grossman

Source – Library

Well I decide a while ago when news of Gabriel Garcia Marquez having dementia and not in the best of health at this moment in time ,he has won the Nobel prize and sure is a writer I have to say little about as he is one writer in translation that seems to have crossed that magic barrier to be read by everyone regardless of it being in translation (wouldn’t it be great for more writers to break that wall in the reader’s mind )  well up to now I have only one book under review  on the blog by him so hope in coming months to add a few but not being a big rereader at best of times when I was this on in the library which I hadn’t read it seemed a great place to start .

At one time I thought these bed-inspired accounts would serve as a good foundation for a narration of the miseries of my misguided life ,and the title came to me out of the blue .Memories of my Melancholy whores .

The narrator comes up with the actual book title .

Well where to start with Memories of my Melancholy whores ,it is his last book published in English and the last but one in Spanish (that being a collection of his speeches published in Spanish in 2010 ).So the main character in the book is a unamed reporter ,he is on the verge of his 90th birthday ,he decides he wants one last fling with a teen virgin to maybe go out in a blaze of glory  .So he meets the local madam Rosa to set this up ,as we do this the man recalls past women ,the narrator the old man choose a wild life of women over love he recalls his life over the course of the book in small chunks  .He then meets the girl Rosa has found for him Delgradina ,she is 14 and perfect in the old man’s eyes, she has wonderfully flawless skin and hair , because the second he sees her for the first time in his life he falls deeply in love .He shares nights with here but Delgradina isn’t her real name ,he never finds out more about her .

She was surprised when I mentioned the name Delgradina .That isn’t her name ,she said ,her name is …. Don’t tell me I interrupted ,for me she’s Delgradina .She shrugged all right ,after all ,she’s yours,

He never even knows her real name this young girl he has fallen so much for

 

 

Well this is a clever switch on his earlier book love in the time of cholera ,florentino is the flipside of this narrator a man who meet and had to leave his true love for most of his life sleeping with many women ,waiting this story follows a man maybe not knowing it but searching for that true love .Other Marquez traits are there like a  time span narrative , like  in a number of his other books. This book although is told in the present as the man reflects and remembers  the  nine decades in which he has lived   and the changing scenery around him  ,Marquez has always been the master of regret and solitude in his books his two best novels are rife with it  both present in this book .What is this man ?What is the sum of his life ? yes he is a fairly well-known report that has in the recent times written a weekly piece on the town and its life .But is that enough ? questions always questions  in Marquez (well that is what I come away with questions of life ) false turns ,missed chances ,lost loves and that one true love .If this is his last book it is a fitting tribute to the man as it has what made him the star he has been for the last fifty years and I would say is short enough for even those none readers to try .One can say yes maybe a 90-year-old and 14 year is wrong ,but the actual sex and meeting is a sideline in this book .The main themes are Marquez stand fare .

Have you read this book ?

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