Two Month Review discussion

Mercè Rodoreda's Selected Stories and Death in Spring

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message 1: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
The thread for talking about the third season of the Two Month Review

message 2: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
Here's the official reading schedule for season three!

October 26: Introduction to Mercè Rodoreda

November 2: Selected Stories: “Blood,” “Threaded Needle,” “Summer,” “Guinea Fowls,” “The Mirror,” and “Happiness” (pages 1-50)

November 9: Selected Stories: “Afternoon at the Cinema,” “Ice Cream,” “Carnival,” “Engaged,” “In a Whisper,” “Departure,” “Friday, June 8” (51-102)

November 16: Selected Stories: “The Beginning,” “Nocturnal,” “The Red Blouse,” “The Fate of Lisa Sperling,” “The Bath,” and “On the Train” (103-143)

November 23: Selected Stories: “Before I Die,” “Ada Liz,” “On a Dark Night,” “Night and Fog,” and “Orléans, Three Kilometers” (144-207)

November 30: Selected Stories: “The Thousand Franc Bill,” “Paralysis,” “It Seemed Like Silk,” “The Salamander,” “Love,” and “White Geranium” (208-255)

December 7: Death in Spring Part One (1-27)

December 14: Death in Spring Part Two (28-68)

December 21: Death in Spring Part Three (69-118)

December 28: Death in Spring Part Four (119-150)

message 3: by Kaija (new)

Kaija (kmstraumane) | 3 comments Just started reading STORIES yesterday, and finished "Blood"—already finding myself unsettled and uncomfortable if not a little paranoid about the future.


message 4: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
This goes up live on Three Percent next week, but as a special preview, here's a longish introductory post I wrote about Mercè Rodoreda and all her books:

message 5: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
Here's an advance look at the post about the first six stories (pages 1-50) that will go live on Three Percent tomorrow morning. It consists of a few different observations linking these pieces, and spends a lot of time on "The Mirror," and why I think that particular story works so well.

message 6: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
New episode is live! Quim Monzó--an incredible, hilarious author in his own right--joined us to talk about the first six Rodoreda stories. You can find the episode here, or wherever you get your podcasts:

Also, we will be recording the final episode of the season live at the *new* McNally Jackson store in Williamsburg (76 N 4th St.) on December 12th. If you're in NY, please come by! And if you're not, post any and all questions you have here (or to my email) so that we can talk about them!

message 7: by Kaija (new)

Kaija (kmstraumane) | 3 comments Just something I'm thinking about as I'm reading along—but what do you guys think about the representation of male and female mindsets/approaches to dealing with their emotions and situations? I haven't paid too much attention to this, but does there seem to be a preference as to who has it "harder" in Rodoreda's world of relationships and life? Or is the main focus just on how awful things are for everyone and it's not fair to parse who has it worse?

message 8: by Kaija (new)

Kaija (kmstraumane) | 3 comments Speaking of awful and beautiful and nostalgic things, "Red Blouse" may be one of those heart-tugging ones for me... That teenage feeling of want/desire from afar, of becoming comfortably obsessed with the unrequitedness of even an idea of love (like the tween or teenage tendency to fall for a character or actor on a TV show)... But then the great double twist at the end--where it becomes too real and risks being shattered, but the narrator still manages to retain and hold on to the innocence of that initial feeling... I think that would have broken me had I been in the narrator's place.

message 9: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
She only wrote a handful of stories from a male perspective, but they do seem fairly different than the one's from a woman's perspective. This is especially true when we get into the "war stories." In terms of the more domestic ones though, I feel like the men in those stories are always going to wreck things, although the boys in "Carnival" and "Red Blouse" are a bit more nostalgic and filled with longing than the women. So, yeah, I don't know. Curious what others think as well.

message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Dixon (pvdixon) | 10 comments I agree with Brian’s comment from the podcast. None of the male voices so far seem distinctly different. The situation seems different, namely that men have choices and power. Even in Carnival the power dynamic between the two young people is interrupted by the muggers and it’s pretty clear that the power this young woman has over her admiring, flower-stealing new friend is not particularly important to her or anyone else.

As for Nocturnal, Rot Spanier means “Red Spaniard.” The Nazi knows he fled Franco, has already suffered a lot for his anti-fascist beliefs and is now powerless. I didn’t read it as pointedly malicious, but even martyrdom for your beliefs is dignified in a way. Who he is and what he believes in is trivial here.

message 11: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
Thanks, Paul! I did get the "Red Spaniard" thing down for the long post (, although I probably still made a mess of trying to explain/understand that story.

Totally agree about the male voices, and am writing about that right now . . . Although I wonder what both you and Brian will say when we get to "Death in Spring." Just reread the first part again and wow, this is like the best short story multiplied by some large number. I forgot how disturbed and sharp this novel is.

message 12: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
The first pocast about "Death in Spring" is officially live:

I have to say that, having pre-recorded the next two episodes, that this part of the season is really incredible. Amazing guests, all of whom bring something special to the table and help fill in details about the publication of the book, Rodoreda's life, and the way "Death in Spring" has been interpreted.


message 13: by Chad (new)

Chad Post (chadwpost) | 35 comments Mod
Oh, two other things:

Next Tuesday (December 12th) will be the live recording at McNally Jackson. Brian and I will be there along with María Cristina Hall of the Ramon Llull Institut. There will be wine. And fun times! Come on out!

Also, a new version of "Death in Spring" came out in Spain recently and is on the best-seller lists! If only that could happen here . . .

message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul Dixon (pvdixon) | 10 comments Just finished the Selected Stories last night, definitely a different feel to the later stories. Looking forward to Death in Spring. A couple stray thoughts on a few stories

White Geraniums — Another story from a male voice where heartbreak and pain are projected outwards. Blowing the death moan trumpet into his wife’s ear while she sleeps is an image that stuck with me. Also strangely reminded me a bit of Tómas Jónsson, there were a couple of moments where sexual frustration and shame led to being awful to a cat.

On a Dark Night — I think this is the one with Loki? Reminds me of the mythical “No Man’s Land” from World War 1, where deserters from both sides live in peace while the shells sail above their heads and land on their comrades.

The Salamander — This one grabbed me immediately. The line about frogs gathering around her made me pause and check that she was human, and the image of three eels playing with your severed Salamander hand is something I didn’t expect to encounter in this book.

message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul Dixon (pvdixon) | 10 comments Holy shit is this book bonkers and amazing. Even really small things are stunning. On page 71 he says “I went with my father to the fountain when I was my daughter’s height” and later on the same page “The trees bordering the river beyond the Pont de Pedra had changed a great deal: when I was little I could touch the lower leaves ... but now I could hardly reach them.”

I really appreciate having read the Selected Stories first and noticing botanical and natural touches sprinkled throughout her stories, this is among the more visceral books I’ve read. The cruelty to animals and even bees and vines is omnipresent.

The unease and alien feeling is in every sentence. I think there’s a description of killing a man by twisting the bones that support his head, a fairly common thing in an action movie described in such an alien way that it’s way more unsettling.

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