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The Speed of Light

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3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  704 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Javier Cercas' third and most ambitious novel has already been heralded in Spain as "daring," "magnificent, complex, and intense," and "a master class in invention and truth."As a young writer, the novel's protagonist—perhaps an apocryphal version of Cercas himself—accepts a post at a Midwestern university and soon he is in the United States, living a simple life, working ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2005)
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Nada by Carmen LaforetThe Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José CelaSoldiers of Salamis by Javier CercasDeath in Spring by Mercè RodoredaIn Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda
Literature From Spain in English translation
21st out of 32 books — 3 voters
L'Adieu aux armes by Ernest HemingwayLe Roi des aulnes by Michel TournierLe Silence de la mer by VercorsLes Bienveillantes by Jonathan LittellHHhH by Laurent Binet
Récits de guerre
67th out of 116 books — 10 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,213)
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Izengabe
Jul 21, 2016 Izengabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Cercas escribe muy, muy bien.
Bjorn
May 07, 2013 Bjorn rated it liked it
Shelves: spain
Someday this war's going to end...

Of course, that quote is not from The Speed of Light; if you know your movie history you’ll hear Robert Duvall as Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now. It’s one of many darkly ironic lines in one of the best movies ever made; he’s just wiped out a Vietnamese village to give his soldiers somewhere to surf, and since he has no clue that the movie he’s in (and the book it’s based on) is about the darkness within man, he can’t comprehend that the war is just going to c
...more
pa'tí m
this book has some excellent reflections about writing and being an artist--the conflict between wanting success/appreciation for your work and doing it "art for art's sake" style.

I like the many references to Hemingway like when he says something like there are two tragedies in life, one is of not getting what you want and the other is getting it. Some of the main themes are regret, loss and the emptiness of life.

Because I haven't read much literature on the Vietnam war I enjoyed reading this b
...more
Bonnie
Jun 27, 2007 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
This book was wonderful. A more complicated and far-reaching story than you first think, moving from the innocence of an aspiring writer having a deeply theoretical discussion about writing a book, to the beauty of an unexpected and enigmatic friendship, to a life-long pursuit for answers to a mysterious and brutal event during the Vietnam war.
Margarida
Apr 03, 2016 Margarida rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
É impossível ficar indiferente a este romance, à maneira de contar a história da amizade entre Rodney Falk, o veterano do Vietname, inteligente, solitário, cáustico, e o jovem aspirante a escritor espanhol, ambos professores numa universidade da cidade de Urbana, no midwest dos EUA.
Uma narrativa cativante, que me deixou sem fôlego, com humor (como o divertido relato do narrador sobre o filme 'Quanto Mais Quente Melhor', ou a cena na discoteca, no início da história), abundante em observações so
...more
jeremy
Jun 20, 2012 jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
the speed of light (la velocidad de la luz), javier cercas's 2005 novel, is an ambitious work that confronts a number of significant themes, including success, friendship, memory, forgiveness, and the legacy of the vietnam war. spanning some seventeen years in the life of its semi-autobiographical narrator, the speed of light begins with the young aspiring writer and his struggling artist friend, marcos, setting out for a night on the town, which they would inevitably spend getting high, drinkin ...more
Miguel Ángel Hernández Navarro
Grandísima novela. Cercas tiene una capacidad innata para narrar y contar historias inolvidables. Esta es una de ellas.
Alberto Delgado
Apr 14, 2016 Alberto Delgado rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cercas mantuvo el nivel con esta historia después de soldados de salamina. Recomendable aunque la historia es muy dura y no todo el mundo estará preparado para un libro como este en el que se muestra como la guerra saca lo peor del ser humano
Amari
Oct 16, 2010 Amari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: español
Una novela bastante inteligente que se enfoca en las complicidades que compartimos sobre todo con nuestros mismos. Me han tocado hasta al fondo muchas de las observaciones que hace el protagonista, las verdades que son casi como heridas, y el sentido de culpabilidad de que se trata precisamente cuando se convierte el protagonista en hijo de puta verdaderamente vil. Cae el joven inocente, y cae fuerte. Lo que mas impresiona es el cambio que experimenta tras su vida, en particular en lo que se ref ...more
Nuno  Cobre
Sep 20, 2016 Nuno Cobre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“La velocidad de la luz” narra la historia de un escritor y un enigma llamado Rodney Falk. En Urbana (EEUU) compartirán despacho como ayudantes de profesores de español. El joven y Falk se hacen amigos y comienzan una extraña relación basada en la afición común que comparten por la literatura. Sin embargo, un día, Rodney desaparece sin dejar rastro.

A partir de ahí, el escritor empieza a indagar sobre la vida del norteamericano. Así, y por medio del padre de Falk, descubre a través de unas cartas
...more
Lucy G. DE Llaguno
El protagonista no tiene un nombre, si una identidad bien definida. Es a la vez escritor y personaje La novela que escribe, La velocidad de la luz, es la novela que leemos. Escribe para sanar la culpa , la soledad y triunfa pero se engolosina con su éxito : "nadie sobrevive con dignidad al éxito", escribe

Los años en la universidad de Urbana marcan su vida con la amistad de Rodney, un personaje misterioso que participó en la guerra de Vietnam. El que escribe encuentra su alter ego en el exsoldad
...more
Juan Mas
Apr 13, 2014 Juan Mas rated it it was ok
La velocidad de la luz, igual que Las leyes de la frontera --el único otro título que me he leído del autor-- se deja leer sin cambiarte la vida. Una historia bien contada, sin complicaciones y con una prosa llana, que no cae en la ramplonería bestselleresca, que hasta incluye alguna reflexión brillante...pero en la que uno no acaba de meterse. La historia de amistad entre los dos protagonistas (el narrador y un compañero de claustro, antiguo combatiente de Vietnam) surge de manera un poco artif ...more
Caroline Gurgel
Quando Tatiana Feltrin disse que A Velocidade da Luz foi um dos melhores livros que ela leu no ano passado (2013), não hesitei. Confiando no gosto da blogueira, comecei a leitura às cegas, sem ter lido sinopse ou sequer alguma resenha e, portanto, não tinha ideia do que me aguardava.

A Velocidade da Luz conta a história do narrador, um espanhol aspirante a escritor, que sonha em escrever um livro, e Rodney Falk, um americano veterano da guerra do Vietnã. O narrador deixa a Espanha para lecionar
...more
Guillermo
Javier Cercas escribe muy bien y es muy agradable toda la lectura. La historia no es muy original -un excombatiente de Vietnam y un español que quiere ser escritor se hacen amigos durante un semestre. Después el español vuelve a España y lleva una vida común hasta que logra el éxito comercial. Finalmente hay un par de dramas.
A toda la novela le falta profundidad o al menos a todos sus personajes.
Superficial.
Natania
Aug 17, 2014 Natania rated it really liked it
A remarkable book, beautifully written and extraordinarily well translated. A particular appeal was the way the narrator is implicated in the story he tells, so that gradually his own conscience becomes more and more entwined with that of the Vietnam war vet he befriends and writes about. The suggestion is that none of us are guilt free, and to be the recipient of a story involves us morally in that story. Someone else's crime or trauma inevitably intersects, somewhere, with our own life, even i ...more
Alfredo
3.5, para hacer justicia al texto. Javier Cercas es de esos autores que, aunque no terminan de romper el entorno material que los rodea para dedicarse a construir ficciones profundas —la prueba está en que el personaje central es siempre él mismo; o sea, un tipo que vive de escribir, a semejanza del Zuckerman de Roth, pero sin la frescura de este—, saben contar una historia. Y la cuentan bien. Con baches y altibajos, en este caso en particular, pero al final cuenta una buena historia. Una histor ...more
Madhuri
Mar 21, 2016 Madhuri rated it liked it
Shelves: spanish
Speed of light was a book I had trouble trusting. Not just because it is a fake war novel, but mainly because it tries too hard to appear honest. The narrator takes us through the painful process of uncovering his story, but his journey sounds so cliche, the surprises so predictable, that you want to give up on the book as many times as the writer claims to want to give up on it.
I still give it three stars because of its themes which are varied and thought-provoking - of lugging around memories
...more
Tanuj Solanki
Dec 18, 2015 Tanuj Solanki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 21-century, spain, 2005
Extremely good, but fails to shed, till the very end, the layers of unoriginality it almost consciously wraps itself in. Some triteness creeps in in places.
M M
Apr 27, 2013 M M rated it it was ok
This is not really a crime novel; instead, it is a rumination on the effects of war and war-crimes on a thoughtful intellectual. Its foundation is a horrific assault on women and children in a Vietnamese village by American special forces during the US campaign in Indo-China. The narrator is a Spaniard visiting as a research fellow at Urbana-Champaign, a young man who still has supreme confidence of his own literary ability, which is simultaneously undermined and energised by his encounter and s ...more
Emily
Jul 18, 2012 Emily rated it liked it
An aspiring young Spanish novelist finds himself teaching as a visiting scholar in Urbana, Illinois, in the 1980s where he befriends a Vietnam War veteran and fellow university instructor with whom he shares an office.

I've read my fair share of Vietnam War novels over the years, and this one had the added interest of being written through the lense of an outsider with little experience or knowledge of the war firsthand (or even of America's long and tortured history with the war first hand), bu
...more
Andrea
Aug 25, 2013 Andrea rated it liked it
Non è che sia un cattivo romanzo, però. Però, è un romanzo in cui Cercas cerca di elaborare i traumi del successo inaspettato di "Soldados de Salamina", e ci riesce in modo interessante tranne quando tira fuori questo alter ego, questo lato oscuro di sè stesso che è Rodney Falk. Veterano del Vietnam che non ha nulla di realistico, sembra una specie di sagoma cartonata del Marlon Brando di "Apocalypse Now", mossa dal Sylvester Stallone del primo "Rambo." Cercas cita Hemingway a proposito e spropo ...more
Ivan
Mar 22, 2016 Ivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-notables, en-2016
Si en otras ocasiones os he comentado que con Murakami me suelo identificar bastante, otro autor que se le aproxima en este sentido es Javier Cercas (al menos el Javier Cercas de El inquilino y la presente). En La velocidad de la luz se tratan varios temas interesantes, como los entresijos del oficio del escritor, las consecuencias personales de la fama y, por encima de todo, de la amistad duradera e indeleble que puede establecerse con ciertas personas que pueden acabar influyendo sobre nuestra ...more
Shar Wallis
The first time I picked this book up I couldn't get into it. Then I picked it up again, & I'm glad that I did, even if I found the beginning boring. 3.5 Stars. Rodney's story about My Khe, the Vietnam war & how it affected him throughout his life is what held my interest. After reading this book I have a better understanding of how war can change a man's mindset.
Rich Goldblatt
Sep 10, 2014 Rich Goldblatt rated it really liked it
Jose Cercas's Speed of Light offers a deep, dark glimpse into the mind of a Vietnam vet whose transgressions lived him with well beyond the jungle. Cercas is a great storyteller and portrays his characters well as he intersects the stories of the vet and his one-time writer friend. A little known author in the U.S., Cercas has achieved wide success in his native Spain.
Sherry (sethurner)
"Now I lead a false life, apocryphal, clandestine, invisible life, though truer than if it were real, but I was still me when I met Rodney Falk."

Javier Cercas's novel is a fascinating look at how life changes a person, the events, the people, the choices we each make - or fail to make. The main character is a Spanish writer who comes to Urbana, IL, thinking that travel will broaden his horizons, give him something about which to write. In Illinois he shares an office with Rodney Falk, a strange
...more
Julio Enrique
Jul 14, 2015 Julio Enrique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tusquets, favoritos
Creo que Cercas es uno de mis escritores favoritos. Lo interesante de esta novela es que al principio parece que trata sobre los estudios de doctorado de Cercas en Urbana, luego sobre el veterano de la guerra de Vietnam que conoció allí y luego sobre muchas otras cosas, pero llegó un momento en que me percaté de que en realidad trata sobre el proceso de escritura del libro que tenía en mis manos y todo lo que esto conlleva. Inclusive por momentos parece que Cercas nos da su poética para escribir ...more
Ana
Sep 08, 2014 Ana rated it really liked it
Lê-se num instante. Um enredo quase perfeito. Um humor muito particular e uma história que cruza o tempo, a vida, a realidade, a guerra. Tudo misturado e triturado, num universo de literatura e literados. Muito bom.
Paul Servini
Mar 11, 2011 Paul Servini rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The second book I picked to accompany me on my journey to Spain. I heard of this author on the BBC's 'The Strand' program. Unfortunately, the local library didn't have the book they were talking about on the program but I found this one instead.

It tells the story of a relationship between a Spanish writer and an American ex-soldier who fought in Vietnam. It deals with their relationship, as well as relationships with others. At the heart of their story is a terrible secret which has far-reaching
...more
Jmolentin
This is such a great book, with great characters. Wanders a little too much. Couldn't remember the name of it, just that it was written by a Spainard.
A. Khare
Jul 27, 2014 A. Khare rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-enjoyed
one of the best books I've read so far. fantastically written,wonderful sentences,great plot i am not competent enough to describe the beauty of this book. it is a book to be read again and again.
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Javier Cercas Mena (Ibahernando, provincia de Caceres, 1962) es un escritor y traductor español.

Hijo de un veterinario rural, cuando contaba cuatro años, en 1966 su familia se trasladó a Tarragona, y allí estudió con los jesuitas. Es primo carnal del político Alejandro Cercas. A los quince años la lectura de Jorge Luis Borges le inclinó para siempre a la escritura. En 1985 se licenció en Filología
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“En aquel momento tuve por vez primera la intuición falaz de que el pasado no es un lugar estable sino cambiante, permanentemente alterado por el futuro, y de que por tanto nada de lo ya acontecido es irreversible.” 1 likes
“«Es usted demasiado joven para pensar en tener hijos –me dijo el padre de Rodney cuando nos despedíamos, y no lo he olvidado–. No los tenga, porque se arrepentirá; aunque si no los tiene también se arrepentirá. Así es la vida: haga lo que haga, se arrepentirá. Pero déjeme que le diga una cosa: todas las historias de amor son insensatas, porque el amor es una enfermedad; pero tener un hijo es arriesgarse a una historia de amor tan insensata que sólo la muerte es capaz de interrumpirla.»” 0 likes
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