Nocilla Experience by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Nocilla Experience by Agustin Fernandez Mallo

Spanish fiction

Original title – Nocilla Experience

Translator – Thomas Bunstead

Source – review copy

I had the third part of the trilogy of novels from Agustin Fernandez Mallo. It reminded me that I hadn’t reviewed the second part after reading it so a quick rereading today Christmas eve. He is one of the leading lights of Spanish fiction and his books test the barrier of what fiction is this is similar to the first book Nocilla dream which I reviewed a couple of years ago. He is a writer that mix styles and almost cut his piece into small chunks. Here some chapters are only a few lines long, other glimpses of personal stories.

Henry Darger died at his Chicago home in 1970, having played out what is the strangest, most solitary episode in the history of art. He believed to have been born in Brazil in 1892. When he was four he lost his mother, who died giving birth to a girl who was later given up for adoption . Henry never met this sister. Soon after, bith Henry and his father were admitted to mental institutions. Henry’s diagnosis was that “His heart is not in the right place”.He never saw his father again after that.

Darger maybe a perfect example of the Loner a modern man before Modern men appeared he wrote a 15000 page book no one read!

How to describe a novel by Mallo it is a hard thing as it is ideas stories and concepts in one package. But with this rereading, I got into the rhythm of his writing. It is like when I was young and used shift through the radio stations and dipped in and out of shows. I loved listening to the shortwave and the old Russian and US propaganda stations and This reminds me those years clips of stories like clips from the book at bedtime. Marc a Spanish man reads old agriculture guides and sorts mathematical formulas and lives in the present via the net a lonely man may be a reflection of the modern man. interrupted with clips of dialogue from Apocalypse now another lonely man as we have martin Shaws words as he waits in Saigon for that fateful mission. Then we have a Us soldier that has a son that is born in Iraq when he is station there John Smith has an Iraqi son. Then we have a number of connections to Henry Darger and his work around the Vivian Girls. Darger, I knew off after seeing a documentary a number of years ago I imagine Mallo may have seen the same documentary was largely unknown in his own life only when he died it was discovered a 15000-page work off written and drawn of this world he had invented and a great battle there. He also references a song by Sufjan Stevens a singer I love and one worth checking out he has one song about Darger A later number of chapters in the book see a Mexican Chico as he makes his way through the US after crossing the border.

Marc consults the Philips agricultural guide 1968. The section on “Cowsheds and other outbuildings” Contains a description of how to put together a toilet for a washroom to go with the milking stalls. He turns the diagram around to see how to adapt his toilet to his hut. He can’t concentarte, His mind keeps being drawn back to a theory he’s pndered for a number of years now, one which fits into something bigger anf broader, which he calls socio-physical theory. The sphere of action, the testing ground, would extend no further than 2 or 3 blocks around the roof terrace. The neighbourhood contains everything he needs comestibles, mundane conversations and seasonal clothing made from polyester. The theory is intended to demonstrate in mathematical terms that solitude is a property , a stat, natural in a btter sort of human being and , to the end

Another nod to modenr men and the solitude in Marc a man using old gudies and gripped in theroies of the world around him.

I fell in love with Mallo style this time around. I struggle with the first book but this time I got his style the jumping in and out of lives is a style I have seen in various films of the last twenty years Magnolia is a good example as it also mix facts at time like this does with a number of interviews with the cream of indie music over the last twenty years maybe the questions are similar they are about what makes each of them whether they are still punk or the impact etcetera. Then Shaw’s lines from Apocalypse now which sees the opening dialogue he had to extend bit by bit as he is in Saigon. Then we have other facts scattered through the book about the likes of Alan Turing, Malcolm Gladwell, and ancient sayings. Mallo tackles the modern way of viewing the world where we tend to jump from here to there as we get stuck down Google tunnels at times. As I said it is a work that drifts but maybe behind it all is what it is like to live in the Modern world.

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Spanish and Portuguese summer reading months 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope Richard doesn’t mind me going tonight with this but as the two countries face each other in the world cup tonight it seemed a good time to announce our fifth Spanish lit month well we do it for two months now and have expanded to include Portuguese literature as well for a second year. This years is an image of Lisbon I have change with the Prisma programme. I am looking forward to seeing the wide variety of books we get Richard usually rounds up through the month I will happily tweet any reviews on twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a list of the spanish speaking countries from the first Spanish lit month.

 

 

Image result for portuguese speaking countries

Here is another of the Portuguese speaking world.I will be featuring more Portuguese novels this year. As the last year, I have been buying a lot of books from Portugal to try and build up this area on the blog.

 

 

 

 

Image result for dona barbara book

We have chosen one read along well I have I think Richard may want to choose a Portuguese novel as I choose this. Dona Barbara is considered one of the greatest Latin American novels. It is in the list of the 100 best novels from PBS  . This for me also has themes in the book are ones I love the clashing of traditional and modern ideas within a society, the clash of city and country. It has been made into a couple of films and is considered one of the best portraits of Venezuelan society at the time the book is set.  We are thinking of posts in the last week of August and discussing the book around them. We can also talk on twitter about the book.

Sorry update we running this over July and August .

This too shall pass by Milena Busquets

Image result for milena busquets this too shall pass

This too shall pass by Milena Busquets

Spanish fiction

Original title – También esto pasará

Translator – Valerie Miles

Source – review copy

I was sent this last year but it wasn’t to this week when I was looking for a couple of short books to cover whilst reading a longer book as well to give me some books to review. Milena Busquets book had been a best seller around Europe and in many ways is a perfect summer book as it is set in the summer in Spain. Milena got a degree in archaeology from university college London then she worked for her family publishing house and has worked in PR and translations since then. This book was longlisted for the Impac award.

For some strange reason, I never considered what it would be like to be forty. When I was tweny, I could imagine myself at thirrty, living with the love of my life and a bunch of kids. Or at sixty, baking apple pies with my grandchildren – me who can’t boil an egg to save my soul, but I would learn. Even at eighty, as an old bag drinking whisky with my girlfriends,But I never imagined myself at forty, not at fifty either,And yet here I am

Blanca never saw herself as middleaged she went from youngest with kids to old age this is her main problem!!

The book starts with Blanca the main character in the book dealing with her own mother’s death and funeral. She then decides to visit her mother seaside holiday home with those she considers her closest friends, lovers, and family. Her two best friends, her two sons, her two ex-husbands and her lover. this is almost like a setting for a Spanish Woody Allen film. In fact the themes within the book. Are those that are most common within Woody  Allen’s films that is of oncoming Middle age. This In Blanca case is driven by the death of her mother.(As someone like Blanca that lost my mother early I know the effect on one’s life and view of life) . The next themes are sex this in Blanca case as we see through this book is almost used to plot out the pain of the loss of her mother. Then there is Death another come theme in Allen films death of family but also the death of relationships is another underlying theme. So over the summer, we see a woman coming to terms with what happened to her. So we see a woman trying to grip on to those younger years drinking and drugs are mentioned a lot and parties but then we see her own children on the edge of coming into the age where this will be their world. A heady mix of sun, sex, and sangria.

To the best of my knowledge.the only thing that momentarily alleviates the sting of death – and lfe – without leaving a hangover is sex. It only lasts a few seconds, though; maybe a little linger if you fall asllep afterwards. But then the fuinture , the clothes, the memories, the lamps, the panic, the grief, everything that had been shooshed up into the The wizard of Oz tornado comes right back down and falls into its place in the room, in the head, in the belly. I open my eyes and it’s not garlands of flowers and singing dwarfs that I see, no ; I’m lying in bed next to my ex,

I loved this description of how she fell into bed with an ex, this remind me some what of something Woody Alllen would say.

This maybe isn’t the first book I would have chosen to read it isn’t my usual read. But I enjoyed the style it has a follow as we follow the stream of consciousness narrative of Blanca’s world as she spends her summer in Cadaques. This brings to mind classic modernist piece like Mrs  Dalloway where a woman confronts here world over a night here we see a woman wrestling with the modern female problems which is much different Mrs Dalloways problems. Blanca is very much a self-centred woman but we see her struggling and trying to get on with her life. But for me, this had a lot in common with Woody Allen films the feeling of a female instead of a male facing what their life is and maybe falling into the arms of a number of people over the course of the book.

The blind spot by Javier Cercas

 

The Blind Spot_HB.jpg

The Blind spot by Javier Cercas

Spanish Essay

Original title -El punto Ciego

Translator – Anne Mclean

Source – review copy

I am loving the fact that in recent years there has been more and more non-fiction lit book been translated into English. This time it is one of my favorite Spanish writers Javier Cercas. I have featured his novels on the blog before four of them all of which have made me question what a novel is? This is in part the question he answers or tries to answer in this book. This book is formed from a series piece he had read or written before thus formed into a book-length essay on various aspects of the novel.

In 209 I published a book , called The anatomy of a moment, which at the time the Majority if Spanish readers did not consider a novel; I myself, althoug I knew or felt that it was a novel, would not allow my editor to present it as one. Why?

Anatomy explores a decisive momnet in the recent history of Spain. It happened the last time we Spaninards practised our national sport, which is not football as tend to think, but Civil war or , failing that a coup d’etat; at least until very recently; after all, up until very recently all experiments with democracy in Spain were ended by Coup d’etat, to such an extent that in the last two centuries there were more than fifty of them.

I loved the football piece in this opening to a chapter about his book on the 1981 coup attempt.

The first thing that captures in this book is the cover which depicts the great white whale of Moby Dick and is the same cover as the Spanish version of the book. The points that Cercas fix on is one the Blind spot of the title in the Novel. That is the question in some books that seem central to the book that can go unanswered the perfect example of this is Quixote where Cercas points out, the question is Don Quixote crazy or Not. Other examples are for Example in Kafka trial what is Josef K exactly accused off! Waiting for Godot the blind spot is Godot himself. The more Cercas mentions examples the more I thought of myself I thought of the blind spot of what is happening to Europe in regards right-wing politics in Dasa Drndic Belladonna(I choose a fellow Maclehose book as this for me was an example I thought of when reading this piece.) Then he also asks the question which I have asked at times and that is about his book The Anatomy of a moment and how you classify a novel like this which walks the line between being reportage, history, and fiction. I go back to the word I was told there is in Slovenian for just good writing that defies categories. He also mentions books like HHHH and in cold blood, also New Journalism which was started by the likes of Tom Wolfe and expands this into a third novel for on top of the two that he had heard Milan Kundera. These are the digressive novel like Quixote and the second the realist novel with books from Zola and Dickens. Cercas says the third movement is writers like Calvino and Perec as he says Postmodern Narrative and may the anatomy of a moment belongs here.

Let’s get back to the question of form.

Vargas llosa considers himself a realist writer, This means in short, that each one of his novels aspires ideally to cinstruct a fictious reality as powerful and persuassive as real reality, a hermetic world fabricated out of words in which to enclose the reader under lock and key to make him live through a vicarous experince. That is Vargas Llosa objective, and to that objective the moral framework and formal arrangment of all his novels are subordinated.

A piece about Llosa and in particular his debut novel The time of the hero

As you can see I loved this essay series as it was one of those books that made me as a reader want to discover more about the books discussed in the essays. But also in a way found some answers to my own blind spots as a reader of Cercas work and that is how he views his own worker, in particular, The anatomy of a moment which for me when I read it eight year ago this week early on in the life of this blog was one of the books that drove me forward as a blogger as it was such a clever novel and since then it has led to  a quest for me as a reader to push the boundaries of what we call fiction in the books I read  and also what drives us as readers. Also to what connects books from different places like Cercas highlights here  with the blind spot is an example of a thread that can link a lot of great books together from around the world.

 

Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda

Death in Spring by  Mercè Rodoreda

Spanish Catalan fiction

Original title –  La mort i la primavera

Translator – Martha Tennet

Source – personnel copy

Well, I read the first of my post-holiday reads in a day. This book came out a few years ago in the US and earlier this year here as part of a new penguin series into European voices. Merce Rodoreda was considered one of the leading novelist of her time. her novel The time of the doves has been considered the greatest Catalan novel. She lived most of her life in Exile in France and Switzerland away from the Franco regime only returning later on in her life to Spain towards the end of the Franco years.

I craned my head out of the water. The light was stronger now, and I swam slowly, wanting to take my time before leaving the river. The water embraced me. It would have seized ,e if I had let it , and – pushed forward and sucked under- I would have ended up in the place where nothing is comprehended.Reeds grew in the river; the current bent them, and they let themselves be rocked by the water that was carrying the force of the sky, earth and smow.

The opening lines have that feel of nature cling to the people of the village .

Now I said this was a novella I wanted to read as I saw it as a male version of the book Stones in a landslide.Which was one of my favourite novels of all time. But this is a very different coming of age novel. This is a visceral novel of a boy becoming a man in a remote village that still clings to the past. There is like the scenery around the book vines and forest of death as it is called there is a sense of a world. Being caught out of time and maybe for our narrator, there is no way out of it. Nature captures people, like the dead body in the river. returned to the river.The bridges that never seem to be used a dense forest give the Narrators world a closed in feel. The other characters his father dying, his stepmother the Blacksmith and his odd son all give this a sense of the beauty and horror of nature. A boy becomes a man in a strange world a wonderful narrated world of mountain villages.

When they pulled the boy from the river, he was dead, the returned him to the river. Those who died in the water were returned to the water. The river carried them away and nothing was ever known of them again.But at night, at the spot where the bodies were thrown into the water, a shadow could be seen.Not every night. Not today or tomorrow, but on certain nights a shadow trembled,They said the shadow of the dead returned to the place where the man was born.They said that to die was to merge with the shadow.

I was so remind of Marquez with this lines and the river which in his books is a powerful prescense as well.

This is a novella that like many great shorter books seems much more than its parts. It is full of descriptions of the world around them at times this is maybe a metaphor for how Franco strangled the country. There is also for me an echo of the works of Marquez the village her is a Spanish cousin of Marquez’s Macondo village. The same sense of a place cling to its customs and superstitions of the outside world this is a world the character is trapped in like those vines and even if he escapes there is moss to slip on, bridges to cross and rivers to survive. Hope is always there but like a dim light in the valley below the village.

That’s how whales are born by Anxos Sumai

THAT’S HOW WHALES ARE BORN

That’s how whale are born by Anxos Sumai

Spanish fiction

Original title –Así nacen as baleas

Translator – Carys Evans-Corrales

Source – review copy

Anxos Sumai is regarded as one of the best writers from Galicia in Spain. She has written four novels and also worked as a radio journalist. She was voted Galician writer of the year in 2007 the year this book came out it also won a prize for short novels. This is another in the series of books that have been sent to me from Small station press who are bringing to us so many new voices from Galicia.

Mother had just turned fifty-five when she decided to lock herself up in her bedroom. The stores had been functioning for a long time without her assistance and were doing well – very well.It was time for her to fall into one of those agonizing maelstroms, because this how it had been throughout her life, When she locked herself into her room she was defeated, yearning to be transported th some place where destiny would be waiting for her. It didn’t matter where: Mother always needed a destiny to set herself into action, to relinquish the voluntary self-exile she would impose on herself when neither death nor her loved pnes could move her at all .

The motherlocked away from her life and the world in pne trying to give up .

The book follows a young woman journey home. Having escaped her family and living in Baja California Mexico where she is studying Marine biology.In particular to do with whales that do crop up as a recurring thought in her mind. The girl receives a call from her Aunt that her mother a figure whom she had numerous problems with her mother. As she returns we found out about her past the mother who never seemed to recover from the husband that left her even now she has shut out the world and lives in her room. The older brother Ramon, a fat boy with a violent temper and disability that is always eating in her mind and then sleeping this was the time they could get around him without him lashing out. The whale at times is a figure she uses for her brother, with the vast appetites. Add a caring Nann the Aunt and Uncle we see a woman struggling to readjust t0 her home but also seeing those around her after returning.Maybe time is right. She is caught up in an affair with her tutor.

Except that the little girl barelyunderstood anything she was being told when Ramon interrupted them, Excuting turns at the entrance to the kitchen, ramon looked like a fat, flabby potato that gyrated and gyrated until he hit one of the walls. The little girl burst out laughin. Ramon made her ;laugh all the time, unless he was asleep.It was like having a clown all to herself, a joyful clown weighing over one hundred kilos.ramon could eat her up if he wanted to. He could eat her up in the same way he could eat a roasted capon all by himself.He could even flatten her when he breathed.

The brother larger than life like a whale a mystery at times

This is an interesting study of a family a modern family. This maybe shows who the dynamics work when there is no father. The problem of having a large than life figure in that of the brother Ramon. He may be overshadowed the narrator(I sense this we never even know her name). THere is a feeling of her runaway but the elastic of her home never quite breaking and being flung back into the family. But with her eyes opened by the trip to Mexico and also maybe having spent time with whales she sees more in her brother Ramon than she did. This is a book about memories the writer has said in interviews also she wants us the reader to draw our own view on the family.The title came from the time she imagined Ramon spending in the tub a fat boy in the tub and a whale ! I really like this book as it does what she wants us as a reader to do and that is thinking about the characters and the situation of an unnamed girl returning to her odd family.

 

An Animal called Mist by Ledicia Costas

 

AN ANIMAL CALLED MIST

An Animal Called Mist by Ledicia Costas

Spanish (Galician) fiction

Original title  FF

Translator – Jonathan Dunne

Source – Personal copy

Well it is near the end of the second month of Spanish lit month and the end of woman in translation month so I decide to combine both with this review another from the small publisher Small station who have been brought out the brightest voices from Galician in the last few year I have reviewed a number of their books this is another and a new writer to this blog. Ledicia Costas has mainly written for YA and has won prizes for her books including the Galicia prize from Children’s literature. She has also written for TV working in documentaries in particular (according to Wiki).

There’s one part however, that not only impresses him, it bores a hole into his chest: the monlogue by Captain Quint a survivor of the world war II USS indianapolis disaster, relating thr sinking of the ship that carried the uranium and partd of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima to the Mariana Islands. Three minutes abd Forty-seven seconds during which Hunter remains on the alert his fist clenched, his senses fixed on the television screen in a kind of paranormal connection woth Captain Qunint .

Whilst watching JAws Hunter learns of what happen to the Uss idianapolis but wants to know more.

This is a collection of six stories all focus on the second world war. From the opening tale in Leningrad following how the people of the city coped with the famous siege. Then one of those strange things happened that when we are reading books the second story in the collection recounts events on the Uss Indianapolis from the point of view  of someone trying to find out about the ship Hunter Scott  heads to the library the ship was sunk near the end of the war by two torpedos and was the single greatest loss of life for a single ship in the war. This strangely I was reading this last week when the team funded by Paul Allen found the ship itself on the sea floor. THe next story follows the events before and after Enola Gay drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the plane following the pilot, student at school an engineer on the train. The two other stories in the collection one follow Italian Partisans and the other uses the actual dialogue of the trials of three Nazi post war including the trial of Goring.

On the morning of 6 August, Aiko, a pupil at the femine school in Hiroshima, had gone out with her friends to do some outdoor acivites. They walked in the vicinty of the river Ota, obvious to the world, in search of flowers to make garlands. It was only a few days until the Floral offering, a festival of colour that celebrated the gifts of nature

The morning waqs a mirror of calm in the surroundings of the river.This was a special place foor Aiko.

On the day the bomb was dropped on the city a girl collects flowers by the river.

This is a collection of voices and stories from the war that don’t read like history but actual events although she seems to squeeze the story around the events, I like the way she choose the every man to show the nature of the human condition and a child  trying to discover about the Indianapolis as they don’t believe it actually happened and this is maybe what can be said about this collection it shows that Truth is often stranger than fiction. We see the fragility of life at times those souls on the ground before the bombs arrive and then the other side of nature the brutal side with those voices from the Nazi trials. This shows what is called Great prose elsewhere those tales that walk the fine line between fiction and non-fiction.

 

Inventing Love by Jose Ovejero

 

Inventing Love

Inventing Love by Jose Ovejero

Spanish fiction

Original title – La invención del amor

Translators Simon Deerholts and Kathryn Phillips-Miles

Source – Review copy

Well, I reach the last of the Peter Owen World series of books for Spain the second in a series they are doing three books twice a year from one country. I have now reviewed all six of the books. Simon Smith from Peter Owen was interviewed about the series recently on LARB  about the books so far and what is to come in the series. Jose Ovejero is a prize winning Spanish writer, he has written seven novels so far and this is his second book to be translated into English. This book Inventing love won the Premio Alfagura de Novela prize in Spain one of the biggest prizes there.

“What’s up?”

“I’m sorry Samuel, I’m really sorry,”

“I think you have got the wrong number “, I say , but my conviction falters when I realize that he’s calling me by my name .

“It’s about Clara.This evenong .Not long ago.Fuck ,I’m sorry.”

“Clara”, I say and I rack my brains, thinkinh that I don’t want him to hang up yet .Before I go to sleep I need to hear this story which is not my story, precisely so that it can become mine, too just as we read a novel in order to add storie to our lives, stories which , however dramatic they may be, are acctually innocuous, we think, because they can’t really affect us

Samuel drawn in straight away to the story of Clara like a Novel he thinks .

This book is based on what happens when a man Samuel in his forties gets a call out of the blue telling him a woman called Clara, the assumption that Samuel was her secret lover. He wasn’t but then decides to find out how the mistake happened and go to the Funeral and decides to invent the past these two had but never had. He meets at the funeral Carina the sister of Clara and she gives him a lift home.He feels bad for lying to her when she drops him off and the sense of closeness he has got to Carina, As the two are drawn together the imagine the past becomes too real at times and maybe stands in the way of moving forward. What happens when you Invent Love ? does Real love survive it?

I read the name on the card – Carina Alvarez – and suddenly I feel uncomfortable. I get the sensation that i’ve gone too far, althoug I also feel relieved that I ‘ve managed to get out of a tight spot rather well.For the sake of something to do, I take a card from my wallet as well and hand it to her, as if we ewere in a buisness meeting meeting , except the only thing written on my card is mynname, telephone  number and email.I’ve never liked buisness cards.She takes it reads it and leaves it on the dashboard.

“I’m pleased to have met you at last, even if the ocasion …Im mean …what a mess”

Samuel firstr meetinmg Clara sister at the fueral, where he likes Carina …

What I loved about this book is that it isn’t a straightforward love story. The real story is of  Samuel and Carina but then there is an imagined love story and the real sense of this almost being a pulp thriller at times as the story unfolds and Samuel discovers more about Clara and Carina he has to move like a detective and adjust his present and also his imagined past.This is one of those stories that happens from those moments that can happen by accident would we do what Samuel did in his position ? that is the question can the lie be kept alive through out and not be caught out.

That was the month was July 2017

  1. The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel
  2. Love and Garbage by Ivan Klima
  3. Nona’s room by Cristina Fernandez Cubas
  4. The hive by Camilo Jose Cela
  5. The Irish Sea by Carlos Maleno
  6. Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa
  7. Wolf Moon by Julio Llamazares
  8. The secret of Evil by Roberto Bolano
  9. Ash Wednesday by Miguel-Anxo Murado
  10. Before by Carmen Boullosa

I manage to read books from 6 countries last month. I also read from one new publisher New Vessel a press, I had been wanting to try so was pleased to get a paper edition of one of their books. I started my new job this month and I am now doing three long days a week doing 13 and half hour days which will take some time to get a new blog routine. I fully started last week of the month as I had 19-day training last month. Anyway back to the blog we got off to a good start with Spanish lit month. I managed to read 8 books for that and expanded it out next month to include Portuguese lit into the Spanish lit month.

Book Of July

Image result for the hive camilo jose cela

The Hive was my book of the month the second book by the late Nobel winner Camilo Jose Cela was a book buzzong with life of post civil war Spain an undercurrent of the anger that was just below. It was one of two books about the civil war the second was Wolf moon also following a post civil war that with people on the run and hiding from Franco’s forces.

Non Book discovery

I have to keep harping back on to Mark Kozelek band Sun Kill Moon released a second collaboration with British experimental band Jesu. This like his three most recent records is Mark singing about his life and day to day events around him, he has become in some ways the Thomas Bernhard of alt rock in these recent albums a vent of anger at times and also a world wide view. This is just a singer at the peak of his songwriting.

Here is one of my favourite tracks a one with a number of Lit references in it as he received a book from a fan that is a bit of a beat hipster in the way he looks.

Before by Carmen Boullosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before by Carmen Boullosa

Mexican fiction

Original title – Antes

Translator – Peter Bush

Source – Personal copy

So now on to Mexico in this years Spanish lit month and the debut novel from Carmen Boullosa which came out in 1989.Carmen Boullosa is both a poet and novelist, she has written 17 novels so far and there is seven of those available in English translation. Two of which including this is from Deep Vellum, I have reviewed ebooks from them but have fallen out of love with ebooks and haven’t reviewed them. So as I have had a little extra money the last few months I have bought paper copies of their books to read.

One day in the middle of break. Maria Enela(that was her name, was or that’s what I rememember, and will stick with Enela) invited me into the hencoop with the. There were no hens or remains of hens. I suspected it was one of the nuns projects thay hadn’t taken root .. an abandoned building, clean for some reqason, dark and silent. I went in with her . Then the steps came close and she asked me “What sare those steps?”

“What do you think ?”I replied, nothing gto worry..”

“You know what I’m talking about,” she said “you know very well. I’m being followed … They old me to ask you

The otherworldlyness of the book, is that ghosts.

Before is told in the voice of a small girl, we see here looking back on her puberty a right of passage as she became a woman. Her sisters and her play with simple white pebbles together in the book make fantasy countries in lines with the stones but then they disappear. Then trying to find out which Turtle was in the turtle shop they had one day the story moves at times into almost a ghost story as strange things happen around the young girl things she has trouble explain or understanding .The story is a fragmented story as thou from a child time is flipped in place and events run against each other in times. There is the mother but the father is the man in the dark is he there or has he gone or died.A book that shows how frightening growing up can be and we see things that maybe or ghost or just fragments of our imaginations as we try to make sense of this world.

The pebbles that I “collected” from the neighbours yard were small, white, and were used by them to decorate the window box adorning the front of their house.

Collecting them was an adventure because they were just beyond our reach and because they were “cultivated” pebbles, “pedigree” pebbles and not stones from the street, so nobody should see us when we got them.

I lived the image of stealing those pebbles we all did something similar as a kid didn’t we !

As I said this is what Mexican writing does so well the short punchy novella from Juan Rulfo with Pedro Paramo which also has a sense of otherness to it written before this novella and a work after by say Yuri Herrera’s signs preceding the end which has a ghostly feel to the text and came out after this book. I also saw a comparison with Guadalupe Nettel’s work  that also touches on times on growing up. There is a style to Boulosa writing that is gripping to the reader given the great translation from Peter Bush. The girl’s voice has a real feel of a young woman looking back and the way you miss as a child the mundane in life and also the way we look at others and events in those years.A tumbling collection of remembered thoughts. Have you read any of her books?

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