This was a good collection of stories. Most of them were relatively easy to read in Spanish (intermediate-advanced level). The hardest, language-wiseThis was a good collection of stories. Most of them were relatively easy to read in Spanish (intermediate-advanced level). The hardest, language-wise was probably Cortazar's story. Most of the stories were Borges-like mini-mysteries. The parallel text saved me the trouble of looking up some words. But do be aware, as some translation is wrong (even I was able to pick up on some mistakes in the translations.) I only didn't read the last story, because the first two paragraphs were entire sentences!...more
I suppose one can write a whole dissertation about El Principe Destronado, concerning the long-lasting effects of the Spanish Civil War and life durinI suppose one can write a whole dissertation about El Principe Destronado, concerning the long-lasting effects of the Spanish Civil War and life during Franco's rule. But El Princie Destronado is much more than that. Sure, we see the father, representing the dictatorship with his arrogance, the mother the defeated Republic, and the child, the future generation, stuck in between. But we see everything from the point of view of the three-year-old runt, Quico, across the duration of a single day in March of 1963. Quico is a picky eater, he carries treasures in his pockets, he plays with his older siblings and is convinced his little baby sister can say more than a-ta-ta. Everything gets filtered through his daily troubles and triumphs, from not having peed in his bed in the morning until his frantic efforts to fend of the demons at night as he goes to sleep. His older brother, who is not old enough yet to go to school, bullies him, plays with him, and convinces him to do things he will get in trouble for. Through Quico's wanderings among the rooms of the apartment of this upper middle class Spanish family, we experience the relationship of the mother with the two hired maid/baby sitters, the struggle of the women not to lose more men to "the war" (later, the film adaptation is aptly named "la guerra de papa"), and the crumbling marriage of a couple. All the while, little Quico gets himself in trouble after trouble and his musings highlight the difference of what is important to him versus to the adults around him. He is the prince who has lost his throne to his baby sister and he has become a nobody, fifth child among six, and his troubles, after following a single day of his life, are just starting, it seems. Written in the 60s and published just two years before Franco's rule ended in 1975, the book carries a foreboding that lingers....more
Laforet is a master of language and character. The subject matter is nothing extraordinary, no more than daily lives and family melodramas, but the naLaforet is a master of language and character. The subject matter is nothing extraordinary, no more than daily lives and family melodramas, but the narration through Andrea's voice, with its doubts and rash judgments and young delusions and stomach grumblings, gives everything a fresh edge.
And if you get a sense this book, which is loosely based on Laforet's own life when she was a student, is hiding something in its strangely homoerotic narration from time to time, distant rumors from friends of friends of friends of Laforet say that, well, your inklings might be right. Of course, Laforet married, had five children, and converted to Roman Catholicism [exactly what one would do after falling head over heels for a woman, no?]...more
Echenique's Spanish is a tad bit too hard for me, I think. Mostly due to the very very long sentences that take up whole paragraphs. The subject matteEchenique's Spanish is a tad bit too hard for me, I think. Mostly due to the very very long sentences that take up whole paragraphs. The subject matter is the retired years of a Peruvian lawyer, a gentleman of high education and a fine life. The twist is the family curse, which we, of course, know he will have to fall for. The humorous storytelling keeps everything rolling page after page with the inner and outer worlds of our main tortured gentleman described in hilarious detail. I highly recommend the book if you Spanish is advanced and you can easily get sarcastic humor (and not doubt your Spanish skills and wonder if you misunderstood something.)...more
From the opening chapter of a large group of Uruguayans having dinner at Tequila Restaurant in New York City to the very end, Benedetti's Gracias PorFrom the opening chapter of a large group of Uruguayans having dinner at Tequila Restaurant in New York City to the very end, Benedetti's Gracias Por El Fuego is a masterpiece. The dialogs are real, the characters are real. Narration shifts from present to past, from first-person to third-person seamlessly. Most of the book is narrated by Ramon, the main character, the son of perhaps the most politically-influential and important persona in Uruguay. There are very few (only one each?) narrations by other characters, Ramon's love interest and his father's long-time mistress. (I cannot remember if there are little bits narrated by the father.)
The overwhelming emotional theme in the book is one of guilt and hatred. Juxtaposed to that is love, both towards family and towards lovers. In the end, "will love save the day?" is answered realistically. But there is much much more to the book than just this. As a whole, the book can be considered a political critique of being Latin American, being a developing country, belonging to a certain class, having socioeconomic as well as moral responsibilities.
Overall, it is a book I can recommend to anyone who is interested in deep character studies and long philosophical dialogs about politics and class.
Note about Spanish language: I read La Borra Del Cafe a few years ago, when my Spanish was worse than now. Benedetti was recommended to me by a Spanish friend, and it was a great recommendation, because he writes in short, clean sentences, yet his subject matter is always fascinating. Gracias Por El Fuego was harder to read mostly because of the shift from present to past tense especially in the beginning of the book and some Uruguay/Argentina-specific Spanish. But nothing too hard. We all know about vos/sos and che... I found that in the beginning I had to use my dictionary often, mainly because there are parts about Ramon's childhood, where the talks about toys, etc, so vocab that I wasn't used to. The second half of the book, I didn't use the dictionary that often....more
The stories in El Llano en Llamas are perhaps described best as "la literatura de la tierra." Some are haunting, some bizarre, and some a bit too longThe stories in El Llano en Llamas are perhaps described best as "la literatura de la tierra." Some are haunting, some bizarre, and some a bit too long. Rulfo incites a desperate, sparse mood, where one can imagine the pesky fine desert particles invading every orifice, the bloody, peeling skin on the feet of poor people in pilgrimage to remote lands for salvation, god forsaken people in god forsaken places named only to remain remote... And there is always a murder, if not a death of some sort. Diles que no me maten, Talpa, No oyes ladrar los perros, and Anacleto Morones are my favorites in this collection. ...more
This is a book that stands out today as an exceptional piece of literature, one that was written half a century ago. I read it in Spanish, which was nThis is a book that stands out today as an exceptional piece of literature, one that was written half a century ago. I read it in Spanish, which was no easy feat, as my Spanish is intermediate at best and, well, Rulfo's mid-twentieth century Mexican-Spanish was not very easy to get through. But even I was able to enjoy the rich texture of the vivid images Rulfo evokes. The rain, the wind, the dust, the sounds of the town, the murmurs of ghosts, the echos of footsteps... all were interwoven seamlessly in a narrative that reads like a dream.
I am not sure if I would consider Pedro Paramo to be a magic realist work. Perhaps it shares some elements with magic realism, perhaps magic realism as we know it today, but it certainly reads and feels different. ...more
What I liked about El Principe was that all doesn't end well, though one can think of things getting worse. Nothing here is sugar coated, but certainlWhat I liked about El Principe was that all doesn't end well, though one can think of things getting worse. Nothing here is sugar coated, but certainly there is some suspension of belief involved whenever little children can do hard, physically challenging tasks. The complete lack of adults, or the incompetence of the one, frail grandpa, is perhaps exaggerated. Though the characters are well developed, there are perhaps too many unexplained loose ends. What about the cat? And the wardrobe? (How many times can wardrobes be involved in fantasy books, really?) And the statues? Where's Eva? And as far as I understand, the remaining two books of the series have nothing to do with this story, so these questions will never be answered. I think I am OK with that, since I do not need everything in life to be explained with sensible reasons, but those who need complete closure should avoid this book. Anyone who likes ghost stories, a touch of horror, and a touch of coming-of-age might like the book.
The level of Spanish is not too hard. I was able to read the book without a dictionary, though at times some naval terms and the descriptions of the sunken ship make it a bit tough. I would recommend the book to intermediate to advanced Spanish readers....more
As I was reading this book, I thought a good 4 stars... Now that I am finished, I will give it 5 and the reason is certainly the account of the survivAs I was reading this book, I thought a good 4 stars... Now that I am finished, I will give it 5 and the reason is certainly the account of the surviving sister, Dede, at the end. Of the four sisters, she is the most interesting and captivating, as her almost indifference to the revolution yet her dedication and love towards her sisters sets her up to be perhaps the most complicated and conflicted character in the book. In the end, her feelings about having to receive the accounts of those who almost witnessed the death of her sisters (this is not a spoiler, as form the very beginning we know this will happen, one way or another), those who shared their final moments of peace before they went on their way back from visiting their husbands in prison, the questions that floats in her head as she listens to people who offer condolences, and her search for a purpose for herself in the grand scheme of things, in this revolution that took too long to achieve anything, made up the most intriguing part of the book. Overall, the book is well-written in Spanish, and the four voices of the sisters are distinct and each one is presented with a narrative that fleshes out their differences in character and in motivation as well as giving the historical account of what might have happened throughout their lives. The author's disclaimer at the end about the half-based-on-fact and half-imaginary nature of the historical narrative was also enlightening (I am not sure if this included in all editions...) ...more