The Speed of Light
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The Speed of Light

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  455 ratings  ·  47 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
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 20th 2009 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2005)
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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
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.
Miguel Ángel Hernández Navarro
Grandísima novela. Cercas tiene una capacidad innata para narrar y contar historias inolvidables. Esta es una de ellas.
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
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
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
Tanuj Solanki
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.
Juan Mas
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Paul Servini
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
The second best-seller from Javier Cercas, an author that broke out spanish cultural filed with "Soldados de Salamina", a novel describing the story of one of the first Spanish fascist who saved his life thanks to the misercordy of a republican soldier.

With "La velocidad de la Luz" Cercas comes back to the decisive facts that change one's man life. Cerca's wrtintg combines the autobiography with the fiction. in this book, a catalan writer (himself) flies to a little town in the very deep country...more
Fátima López sevilla
Necesario para todos aquellos que escriben o que alguna vez han pesado en escribir... o en dedicarse a alguna otra actividad artística.
This was an interesting book from a couple of perspectives. This book is part historical fiction and part a story of an individual's (2 actually) way of dealing with tragedy and terrible mistakes. I felt that the author succeeded in making his subject's feelings, struggles and ultimate resolution empathetic, horrifying and realistic, but did not succeed in doing so for the narrator. Whether or not this was intentional on the author's part I do not know, but it made the narrator seem somewhat obt...more
Me impresionó profundamente este relato!
The narrator, an international student of literature in a Midwestern university who later becomes a writer, tells the story of his friendship and the life of a Vietnam vet whom he meets in graduate school. All along, the narrator, takes you through his own vicissitudes. I very much enjoy Cercas' prose and story telling--possibly more in his later novel "Los Soldados de Salamina." A well-paced novel that kept me wanting more. This review is from the Spanish version of "La Velocidad de la Luz."
Ένα πολύ παράξενο βιβλίο. Πραγματεύεται ταυτόχρονα δύο μεγάλα θέματα, την βία του πολέμου και την έπαρση και αλαζονεία της δόξας. Τα συνταιριάζει και πλέκει μία ιστορία. Αναφερόμενος ο συγγραφέας σε αυτά τα δύο μεγάλα θέματα, βρίσκει την χρυσή τομή για να τα βολέψει και να τα αναδείξει στο έργο του. Ο τίτλος του είναι κάπως παραπειστικός και στις τελευταίες του σελίδες τον καταλαβαίνεις. Ένα αξιόλογο ανάγνωσμα που θα ικανοποιήσει τους αναγνώστες του.
Another false novel about a Vietnam war veteran and a writer who tries to tell his story. It is Cercas's follow up (sequel) to the successful Soldiers of Salamis. As with the previous book, this one is concerned about the haunting of memory and history, with the added burden of all-consuming fame and success. Cercas has repeated his formula, with mixed results. But it is always a pleasure to see him grapple with Sebaldian themes.
This book is all about what it means to become a writer, about the process of writing. What does it mean to tell a story, especially someone else's story, when you have no other choice, when you're not even sure you understand the story. Interesting use of the American experience in Vietnam and its aftermath in the context of a book about storytelling. Also, good to see Urbana, IL featured in a book. And, all from a Spanish perspective.
Translated from Spanish, tells the story of two men, a young man, a want-to-be writer, who gets a job in a US university teaching Spanish where he forms a friendship with another professor who has been a Vietnam vet. Some harrowing pages on the Vietnam war, but that forms only a small part of the novel. It is more a insight into the characters of these two men and how failure and success changed their lives.
"Soldados de Salamina", del mismo autor, es un libro realmente extraordinario, entre los 3 mejores libros que he leído en mi vida.
"La velocidad de la luz" parece una repetición del mismo esquema y con un tema menos interesante. Mientras "Soldados ..." trata sobre la Guerra Civil Española, en este caso los personajes enfrentan el fantasma de la guerra de Vietnam.
Joe Salas
May 16, 2011 Joe Salas rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joe by: Todd
One one hand, I didn't like this one as much as Soldiers of Salamis. Soldiers of Salamis seemed overall better written, and more coherent when it came to all the meta-author stuff. On the other hand, The Speed Of Light is far more haunting. Rodney is pretty intense character ("character"?) who makes a deep impression that lingers like some funny-tasting wine
He escrito unas tres páginas sobre este libro, pero, al fin y al cabo, quiero revisar mis comentarios para crear una composición nueva de los apuntes. La novela se trata de un hombre español quien vive y trabaja en Illinois, EEUU por 2 años. La guerra es siempre triste, pero el protagonista es bastante triste. Aunque no me cae bien al narrador, la novela es okey.
My second Javier Cercas. The first was Soldiers of Salamis which I enjoyed very much. This has the same author centered narrative (is it fact or is it fiction?) but half of it is set in the U.S. and tells of the narrator's friendship with a Vietnam vet. The second half is set in Spain and provides the conclusion to this oddly interesting tale
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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...more
More about Javier Cercas...
Soldados de Salamina The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-Five Minutes in History and Imagination Outlaws: A Novel El inquilino The Tenant And The Motive

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