Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Tango Singer by Tomas Eloy Martinez

A review Tomás Eloy Martínez' The Tango Singer

Tomás Eloy Martínez, who was shortlisted for last year's inaugural International Man Booker Prize, was born in Argentina in 1934. His writing is satisfyingly sharp and eccentric. He casts Eva Perón as one of those women "whose lives were so excessive that, like the inconvenient facts of history, they were left without a real place of their own. Only in novels could they find the place they belonged, as always happens in Argentina to people who have the arrogance to exist too much."

But The Tango Singer is much more than a card-sharp's showy sleight of hand. Ultimately it's a testament to man's desire to transcend death. No one does it more eloquently than the tango singer himself. Martel's haunting performances, sung in seemingly unconnected locations all over Buenos Aires, follow the contours of a map. Read the map and the city's shameful past is revealed.

Jorge Luis Borges once wrote that a man fills the space around him with images of mountains, stars, kingdoms and people, only to discover shortly before his death that "the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face". Borges would have adored the tango singer's audacious map. And, given that Borges often reviewed books which were never written and profiled writers who never existed, I suspect he would have loved the fact that not only is this glittering homage to him a work of fiction, but it concludes with the words: "all the characters in this novel are imaginary, even those who seem real."

You can find the full review here

Buy The Tango Singer at

Buy El Cantor De Tango at

Hay festival - Cartagena

A report from the Hay festival Cartagena

Deckchairs, umbrellas, bookshops at every corner, people stuffed into marquees apologising profusely as they bump the elbows of their tweed jackets into one other. The Hay festival is a special literary event, a place for readers and writers to come together, to relax in the picture-postcard village of Hay-on-Wye in the hills of the Welsh countryside.
The Hay festival Cartagena is an altogether different proposition. Long-eared donkeys pull carts through the 16th-century walled city. Vendors shout at the inhabitants of the burnt ochre houses. At every corner stand armed police. Rumour has it that for every one in uniform, two more in plainclothes stand idly watching over the city. For this week Cartagena - or Cartagena de Indias to give it its full name, known as La Heroica - has special visitors. Authors from Britain, Europe, and North and South America have converged on the dank, narrow streets of this Colombian city for the four-day festival.
There are the new writers of Latin America such as Colombia's Jorge Franco, who places Romeo and Juliet in the mean streets of Medellín. There is Francisco Goldman, born in the US, who writes in the Spanish of his Guatemalan parents. There is the waspish intellect of Spain's Enrique Vila-Matas. And then there are the British. Hanif Kureishi sits in a hotel lobby receiving visitors with surly charm; Vikram Seth plops himself down in a chair, almost disappearing.

You can find the article here

Casa de Las Americas Awards

Chilean Raul Zurita, Dominican Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, and Portuguese Boaventura de Sousa Santos won on Friday the 2006 extraordinary Casa de Las Americas award in poetry, narration, and essay.

The winners of Jose Lezama Lima (poetry), Ezequiel Martinez Estrada (essay) and Jose Maria Arguedas (narration) awards were announced at a ceremony in the Che Guevara Hall of that cultural institution.

Raul Zurita won the Lezama Lima award for his INRI book of poems, which the jury praised.

Marcio Veloz Maggiolo won the award for his La Mosca Soldado (The Soldier Fly) novel.

Boaventura de Sousa Santos was awarded for raising a universal issue in a controversial way, abridging some of the most acute conflicts in current public policies.

The extraordinary Casa de Las Americas honorary awards have been granted for six years to the best books in the mentioned genres.

You can find the article here

Selected Writings by Ruben Dario

A review of Rubén Darío's Selected Writings

In Spanish, there is poetry before and after Rubén Darío. The Nicaraguan (1867-1916) was the first major poet in the language since the seventeenth century, the end of the Golden Age whose masters included Garcilaso, Saint John of the Cross, Fray Luis, Góngora, Quevedo and Sor Juana. And despite an abundance of great poets in the twentieth century on both sides of the Atlantic--García Lorca, Alberti, Salinas, Cernuda, Neruda, Vallejo, Paz, Palés Matos, Lezama Lima, to name a few--his stature remains unequaled. The poetic revolution led by Darío spread across the Spanish-speaking world and extended to all of literature, not just poetry. He ushered Spanish-language poetry into the modern era by incorporating the aesthetic ideals and modern anxieties of Parnassianism and Symbolism, as Garcilaso had infused Castilian verse with Italianate forms and spirit in the sixteenth century, transforming it forever. Darío and Garcilaso led the two most profound poetic revolutions in Spanish, yet neither is known abroad, except by Hispanists. They have not traveled well, particularly in English-speaking countries, where they are all but unknown.

Darío's case is the most baffling because he is nearly our contemporary, whereas Garcilaso, who lived from 1501 to 1536, can today be safely left on library shelves along with Petrarch, Ronsard and Spenser. Besides, Garcilaso has by now been so thoroughly assimilated into Spanish poetic discourse that it is easy to overlook his presence in the poetry of Neruda and Paz. Darío's innovations, style and even manner are still contemporary, however, as are the polemics that his poetry provoked among other poets, professors and critics. What is more, his influence penetrated all levels of Latin American and Spanish society, where his voice is still audible in the lyrics of popular love songs; the artistic movement that he founded, Modernismo, had a tremendous impact on everything from ornaments to interior design, from furniture to fashion. Darío, more than a Nicaraguan poet or a Latin American poet, was a poet of the Spanish language--and its first literary celebrity, embraced throughout Latin America and Spain as the most original and modern of poetic voices.

You can find the full review here

Crime fiction in Cuba

The genre has pushed its limits, both aesthetically and politically, in the Mario Conde series of Leonardo Padura, Cuba's best known and most popular crime writer. And it has also crossed the language barrier, with bilingual authors in and out of Cuba who pen their books in English and enjoy a broader market than writers who depend on the vicissitudes of translation.
In her 2004 book on Cuban and Mexican crime fiction, Crimes Against the State Crimes Against Persons (University of Minnesota Press, $19.95), Persephone Braham identifies the genre as neopoliciacos. The Spanish policiaco, like the French policier, is the name for what in English goes by "detective" fiction. The difference is telling. Where the English and American genre stresses the private investigator (Sherlock Holmes), Latin countries focus on the policeman (Inspector Maigret), reflecting societies that privilege the individual or the state, respectively. Of course, the attitudes converge in the figure of the maverick cop (Dirty Harry), an important anti-hero role model for societies like Cuba, and to some extent Mexico, that are or have been run by one-party governments intolerant of dissent.
Policiacos from the early years of the Cuban Revolution, according to Braham, were naively schematic, with the policía as the good revolutionary battling the dastardly plots of exiles and the CIA. But two forces pushed the genre in a different direction.

You can find the full article here

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez

A review of Guillermo Martinez' The Oxford Murders.

Nothing could be more English than a murder mystery set in Oxford, but Argentinian writer Guillermo Martinez manages to appropriate Morseland with surprisingly assured results. As in all good detective stories, the novel features an unlikely sleuthing twosome - in this case, a young mathematical student from Buenos Aires and his mentor, the fusty Oxford logician Arthur Seldom. The contrast between old and new-world sensibilities is what lends the novel its low-key charm.

You can find the full review here

Guillermo Martinez was born the 29th of July 1962 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
He has made a dual career in mathematics and literature.
Martinez' work has been translated into 25 languages.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In praise of the novel

Carlos Fuentes' inaugural speech at the International Literature Festival Berlin, on 6 September 2005.

Carlos Fuentes celebrates the democratic revolution set in motion by Cervantes' novel Don Quixote, and the dialogue of civilisations created by "world literature".

Not long ago, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters addressed one hundred writers from all over the world with a single question: name the novel that you consider the best ever written.

Of the one hundred consulted, fifty answered: Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

Quite a landslide, considering the runners up: Dostoevsky, Faulkner and García Márquez, in that order.

The results of this consultation pose the interesting question of the long-seller versus the best-seller. There is, of course, no answer that fits all cases: why does a best-seller sell, why does a long-seller last?

Don Quixote was a big bestseller when it first appeared in 1605 and has continued to sell ever since, whereas William Faulkner was definitively a bad seller if you compare the meagre sales of Absalom, Absalom (1936) to those of the really big-seller of the year, Hervey Allen’s Anthony Adverse, a Napoleonic saga of love, war and trade.

Which means that there is no actual thermometer in these matters, even if time will not only tell: time will sell.

You can find the full article here

Gabriel Garcia Marquez admits to one year of writer's block

The Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, pioneer of the school of magical realism and probably the best known contemporary author in the Spanish-speaking world, has confessed to suffering from that most humble of literary problems: writer's block.

"I've stopped writing. 2005 has been the first year of my life when I haven't written a line," the Colombian storyteller who revolutionised Latin American literature said in a rare interview with a newspaper at his home in Mexico City.

Garcia Marquez, who galvanised the world with his 1967 epic One Hundred Years of Solitude, is to be guest of honour at Britain's Hay on Wye international literary festival, which opens today in Colombia's Caribbean port of Cartagena, the writer's birthplace. "In practice, with the experience I have, I could write a new novel without any problem, but people would realise that I hadn't put my heart into it," he told Barcelona's La Vanguardia newspaper, which will publish the interview on Sunday.

You can find the full article here

Find Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Books at

Friday, January 20, 2006

Curfew by Jose Donoso

Review of José Donoso's Curfew

The exile's return to his native land is the subject of some of the best writing from Latin America in recent years. Julio Cortazar in ''Hopscotch'' and Alejo Carpentier in ''The Lost Steps'' have played brilliant variations on the theme ''you can't go home again.'' Jose Donoso returned to Chile in 1980 after 15 years in Europe. He now lives in Santiago. In ''Curfew'' he has created a small masterpiece in the familiar genre. The book's protagonist is a famous singer of protest songs named Manungo Vera, just returned to Chile after 13 years in Paris. He hasn't been off the plane an hour when someone asks him the inevitable question: ''How does it feel to be living under a dictatorship?'' We already know by then that ''Curfew'' is both the story of a man's search for his roots and a portrait of Chile in the second decade of a military dictatorship no one knows how to get rid of.

You can find the full review here

Buy Curfew at

Fernando Meirelles' film gets 10 nominations for the British Academy Film Awards

Socially conscious spy yarn "The Constant Gardener" led the nominations Thursday for the British Academy Film Awards, with 10 nods including best picture.
The film's stars, Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, both received acting nominations. The film's Brazilian director, Fernando Meirelles, also is up for an award.

You can find the full article here

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jose Saramago (Portugal)

José Saramago, recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Azinhaga on 18 November 1922.
For financial reasons he abandoned his high-school studies and worked as a mechanic. After trying different jobs in the civil service, he worked for a publishing company for twelve years and then for newspapers, at one time as assistant editor of "Diário de Notícias".Between 1975/ 80 Saramago supported himself as a translator but since his literary successes in the 1980s he has devoted himself to his own writing. His international breakthrough came in 1982 with Baltasar and Blimunda. Since 1992 he has been living on Lanzarote.

1947 - Terra do pecado
1966 - Os poemas possíveis
1970 - Provavelmente alegria
1971 - Deste mundo e do outro
1973 - A bagagem do viajante
1974 - As opiniões que o D.L. teve
1975 - O ano de 1993
1976 - Os apontamentos
1977 - Manual de pintura e caligrafia (Manual of Painting and Calligraphy: A Novel)
1978 - Objecto quase
1979 - A noite
1980 - Levantado do chão
1980 - Que farei com este livro
1981 - Viagem a Portugal (Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture)
1982 - Memorial do convento (Baltasar and Blimunda)
1984 - O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis)
1986 - A jangada de pedra (The Stone Raft)
1987 - A segunda vida de Francisco de Assis
1989 - História do cerco de Lisboa (The History of the Siege of Lisbon)
1992 - O Evangelho segundo Jesus Cristo (The Gospel According to Jesus Christ)
1993 - In nomine Dei
1994 - Cadernos de Lanzarote I
1995 - Ensaio sobre a cegueira (Blindness)
1995 - Cadernos de Lanzarote II
1996 - Cadernos de Lanzarote III
1997 - Todos os nomes (All the Names)
1997 - Cadernos de Lanzarote IV
1998 - Cadernos de Lanzarote V
1999 - O conto da ilha desconhecida (The Tale of the Unknown Island)
1999 - Discursos de Estocolmo
1999 - Folhas políticas (1976-1998)
2000 - A caverna (The Cave)
2000 - A face de Saramago
2001 - A maior flor do mundo
2002 - O homem duplicado (The Double)
2004 - Ensaio sobre a lucidez (Seeing)
2005 - Don Giovanni ou o dissoluto absolvido
2005 - As intermitências da morte


1980 - Prémio Cidade de Lisboa
1983 and 1984 - Prémio PEN Club Português
1986 - Prémio da Crítica da Associação Portuguesa de Escritores
1991 - Grande Prémio de Romance e Novela
1993 - Prémio Vida Literária
1995 - Prémio Camões
1998 - Nobel Prize for Literature

Related Posts:

Three Nobel prizes and six other writers ask for the end of the process against Orhan Pamuk
Blindness by Jose Saramago (Review)
The Double by Jose Saramago (Review)

Francisco Goya on Film

Czech director Milos Forman's movie about 18th-century Spanish artist Francisco Goya, Goya's Ghosts, looks as if it could be ready for release this summer. Forman completed filming at the end of December and is now starting post-production. The movie, which stars actors Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman (who plays Goya's teenage muse), should receive its world première in Prague.

You can find the full article here.

Take my Eyes - Movie Review

A review of Spanish director Iciar Bollain's "Te doy mis ojos"

Spanish director Iciar Bollain tackles the harsh reality of domestic violence in Spain in this gritty drama, focusing on a woman’s personal battle between love and fear, as well as raising interesting questions about the wider cultural picture of a patriarchal society.

Scooping seven Goya awards (Spain's equivalent of the Oscars), Bollain's dramatic portrayal of Pilar, played brilliantly by Laia Marull, as a woman trapped in a relationship with an insecure and aggressive husband, Antonio, (Luis Tosar), owes more than a nod to the films of Ken Loach, in particular Nil By Mouth. Interestingly, Bollain has actually written a book about the famous British director and is married to his friend and collaborator, Paul Laverty.

You can find the full article here.

Fabian Bielinsky and Breno Silveira share some behind-the-scenes experiences

Fabian Bielinsky ("The Aura", "Nine Queens") and Breno Silveira ("Two Sons of Francisco") share some behind-the-scenes experiences.

Fabian Bielinsky's second film, following his international hit, 2002's "Nine Queens," is a thriller about an epileptic whose life changes when he accidentally kills a man, only to discover that the victim was about to commit a major crime.

I wrote this as a quite conventional thriller 20 years ago, just after I left film school, then forgot about it. And then I took up the original idea again, and it went in a completely different direction when I decided to make the main character an epileptic.

This character's obsession is control; he is a control freak in a way. Everything in him is about control. But there is this contradiction: He cannot even control his state of mind.

When I was doing the research and talking to neurologists, I bumped into the aura thing, which I didn't know about. It is something that happens just before the epileptic fit, when the whole state of mind and perception changes, and it is completely different from one person to another. It goes from lasting just one second, with some people, to several minutes, and sometimes there are hallucinations. The reaction from patients is completely different, one from the other. Some people hate their auras because they are like an advance warning of the nightmare fit to come, and others love it. Our main consultant, a very well-known neurologist in Buenos Aires, told me that some people asked him not to get cured because they didn't want to lose the aura.

This was something that really got to me, and I said, "This is a very cinematic thing." In a way, the aura coming before the fit is the picture of inevitability because there is nothing to do about it.

When the film came out, I was wondering what people would say about it, and our adviser called me and said some of his patients were very pleased. They could take their family to the movie and say, "This is what happens to me."
Brazilian director Breno Silveira worked for years in documentaries before making his feature debut with this film about two real-life Brazilian singers and their rise from rags to riches.

When I was very young, my father gave me my first camera. He had a kind of black-and-white lab in the house, in the bathroom, and I started to take pictures. I don't know how, but I just became a photographer, and one day someone asked me to take photos on a movie set. It was a very passionate experience for me.

Then I went to university to study marine biology, but I was so sad. I didn't like it, staring at fish, and I told my parents I wanted to leave. They were very surprised. But a very famous photographer was visiting my father's office -- my father is an architect -- and he saw these photos on the wall and wanted to know whose they were, and my father said they were mine. So, he started letting me work for him, and I began to make documentaries, especially shooting in the favelas. And I'd shoot there for the BBC and other television companies.

At one point, I won a scholarship to go to film school in Paris. But I had very little money when I came back. It was a very bad time in Brazil in the late 1980s, and there were only about 10 films being made each year. I lived in a tiny, tiny apartment. It was very difficult.

I started to do (commercials and music videos). And then we did a music video for these two singers, Zeze di Camargo & Luciano. They are very well known in Brazil, but they are like country singers -- not at all from my world. They wanted me to make a movie about their life, but I kept saying "No, no, no."

And then they told me their story, and it is full of events and tragedy -- about how their father was a peasant farmer, and how he always dreamed that they would be singers, how he sold everything he had, and how they had no food, and how they started to sing, and one of the brothers was killed in a terrible accident. I thought, "This is very interesting."

Now, after the film, their father is like a star here! When the film was finished, everybody came to see it in Brazil. It did better than (Warner Bros. Pictures') "Batman Begins."

You can find the full article here.

47th Casa de las Américas Prize jury presented

It being the 47 edition of the Prize, said Jorge Fornet, director of the Casa’s Center for Literary Research, "one cannot avoid yielding to the temptation of figures: over the years 23,328 works have been entered for competition; 1,160 Latin American and Caribbean intellectuals have participated as jury members and 314 works have been awarded prizes.

"It is that vote of confidence in a competition that cannot offer much else than its prestige, which is what explains our survival."

On this occasion, the competition is in five categories: poetry (200), short story (80), historical-social essay (25), Brazilian literature (essay and testimony, 60), and Caribbean literature in English or Creole (10).

The poetry jury is made up of Douglas Bohórquez (Venezuela), Horacio Salas (Argentina), Nicolás Suescún (Colombia), Natalia Toledo (Mexico) and Georgina Herrera (Cuba).

The Short Story Prize will be selected by Vicente Battista (Argentina), Mario Mendoza (Colombia), David Toscaza (Mexico), Horacio Verzi (Uruguay), and Laidi Fernández de Juan (Cuba).

In Historical-Social Essay, the jury is made up of Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Claudia Briones (Argentina), Gisela Cánepa (Peru), and Eduardo Torres Cuevas (Cuba); while that of Brazilian literature is made up of Brazilians José Murilo de Carvalho and Evelina Dagnino and Portuguese Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

Caribbean literature has an equally luxury jury, with writers Joceline Clemencia (Curacao), Velma Pollard (Jamaica) and Margarita Mateo (Cuba).

The results of the 47th edition of the Casa Prize will be announced on January 26.

You can find the full article here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Inquisitors' Manual by Antonio Lobo Antunes

Review of António Lobo Antunes' The Inquisitors' Manual

Antunes's career began in the mid-1970's, as Portugal was throwing off Europe's longest-lived dictatorship, and that era of António Salazar still haunts his imagination. It haunts the country, too, this novel (translated by Richard Zenith) insists. "The Inquisitors' Manual" is not so much an allegory of fascism as an anatomy of the way it penetrates societies - families, psyches, bodies - and of the scars it leaves. The regime is represented by the man nearly everyone refers to simply as "the Minister." Minister of what we never learn, though Salazar himself pays deferential visits to the farm that this crude, swaggering patriarch presides over like a feudal lord - and penetrate is exactly what the Minister does: the cook (on the altar in the family chapel), the steward's teenage daughter (in the barn), the pharmacist's widow, the sergeant's wife, not to mention assorted maids and Gypsies. He's not even above ogling his prospective daughter-in-law with the same proprietary leer he directs at his dependents. No wonder his son has turned out to be such a frightened little mama's boy. As the Minister obligingly explains to him while bending the steward's daughter over the manger, "I do everything a woman wants except take my hat off, so that she won't forget who's boss."

Arrogance, brutality, moral squalor - much here is reminiscent of another anatomist of tyranny's intimacies, William Faulkner. And with the Minister and Salazar and their regime growing increasingly senescent, we breathe a rank atmosphere of illusion and cowardice, futility and neglect, that similarly recalls Faulkner's world. The farm chokes on its own abundance, run riot with vegetation and maddened by the cackling of birds. The windmill rusts, the garden angels crumble, the German shepherds sicken and die. Humans descend to the level of beasts; the boss who fornicates in the barn calls the vet to deliver his illegitimate child. The regime's collapse comes as only another in a long series of capitulations.

You can find the full review here

Buy The Inquisitors' Manual at

The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Reverte

A review of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Fencing Master

It was my own fault really. Corso, the rare-book-scout hero of Arturo Perez-Reverte's sinister mystery, "The Club Dumas," would never have made such a fundamental mistake. But I was eager, probably over-eager, for a summer diversion, restless for an intellectual thriller in the tricksy mode of Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum," William Hjortsberg's "Falling Angel" and Iain Pears's "An Instance of the Fingerpost."
These were, after all, the sort of devilishly clever books that Perez-Reverte was known for. I had much enjoyed "The Club Dumas," despite its occasionally jarring mistakes – a wrong word in the famous first sentence of Scaramouche ("He was born with the gift for laughter and a sense that the world was mad"), 223-B, instead of 221-B, as the address for Sherlock Holmes's flat, reference to a hitherto unknown work by Merimee, etc. But these lapses could be forgiven. For what could be more entertaining than a shadowy adventure novel in which a brooding, world-weary book hunter searches for the connection between a manuscript chapter of "The Three Musketeers" and the three extant copies of a notorious 17th-century manual for summoning up the Devil - "The Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness"? The result was spooky, ingenious, sexy and lots of fun.

And, according to friends, so was "The Flanders Panel," a sleekly intricate whodunit artfully mingling chess, painting conservation and murder. Last year's "The Seville Communion" even got its author called, by one reviewer, "the thinking man's Robert Ludlum" - a somewhat dubious compliment perhaps, but which of us thinking men (or women) is altogether immune to the allure of an insidious international conspiracy? So when I picked up "The Fencing Master," I sighed contentedly, sure of an elaborate, ingenious mystery and a very good time.

You can find the full review here

Buy The Fencing Master at

The Double by Jose Saramago

Review of José Saramago's The Double

You don't get to be a Nobel laureate simply by strewing obstacles in the path of your readers. Saramago has a distinctive imagination, characterised not by leaps or flights but by a sublime grinding, as anyone who has read his implacable fable, Blindness, can confirm. From a single premise, he can generate prodigies of grounded fantasy.
The premise of The Double is simple, and announced in the title: a history teacher, idly watching the video of a romantic comedy, glimpses a supporting actor who proves to be identical to him in every way. The two men's voices coincide; even such things as moles and scars are identically distributed. Saramago has no interest in providing an explanation for this freakish occurrence, only in exploring its repercussions.

There's nothing particularly new in positing a logical world and then introducing an absurd element which leads to an unravelling of identity. After all, Saramago, born in 1922, is of an age to have seen existentialism and absurdism come and go. It's true that he takes the story in some unexpected directions, so that his history teacher becomes more decisive, more committed to his life in the shadow of the doppelganger. Whether this means that he becomes more 'himself' is debatable - it's just that he forfeits the luxury of wavering. Even so, The Double seems more of an idea for a novella than a novel.

You can find the full review here

Buy The Double at

The Garden Of Secrets by Juan Goytisolo

Review of Juan Goytisolo's The Garden Of Secrets

Speaking recently in Edinburgh, the man Carlos Fuentes called 'the greatest living Spanish novelist' declared his firm belief that fiction, even for the most politically committed writer, should never be merely a vehicle for political ideas or propaganda. It is no surprise, then, to find that Juan Goytisolo's new novel touches only tangentially on political reality; none the less, his recurring concerns gleam through the fantastical narrative.

Goytisolo's novels were banned in his native Spain until the death of Franco and since 1956 he has lived in exile in Paris and Marrakesh. Defiantly pluralist, he has long been an advocate of multiculturalism and a fierce opponent of Spain's obstinate refusal to acknowledge the extent of Moorish and Jewish contributions to its culture and history, particularly its literature.

The Garden of Secrets is an attempt to recreate the polyphonic nature of literature by presenting the novel as a series of tales told by a circle of 28 anonymous readers over a period of three weeks. His 28 storytellers - one for each letter of the Arabic alphabet, a nod to the Cabbala - bring together, we are told, an impressive range of educational backgrounds, professions, literary tastes and ideologies with a specific, anti-authoritarian aim.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Garden of Secrets at

The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta by Mario Vargas Llosa

Review of Mario Vargas Llosa's The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta

n the reverberant days of the "Boom" in Latin American fiction a couple of decades ago, when literature was for a moment the region's headiest and most dangerous export, all the talk was of the pursuit of the "total novel." The expression -borrowed perhaps from Latin America's famous soccer teams of the day, then searching for "futbol total" (also with beautiful consequences and ultimate frustration) - was meant to suggest, at the very least, monumentality, grandeur of vision, transcendent syntheses, technical derring-do.

This was the decade of Julio Cortazar's "Boom" - detonating "Hopscotch," Carlos Fuentes's "Death of Artemio Cruz," the great Santa Maria cycle of Juan Carlos Onetti, Alejo Carpentier's "Explosion in a Cathedral" and Jose Lezama Lima's "Paradise" and Guillermo Cabrera Infante's "Three Trapped Tigers," Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," Ernesto Sabato's "On Heroes and Tombs" and Mario Vargas Llosa's vast cinematic "timescapes" of Peruvian life and history, "The Green House" and "Conversation in the Cathedral."

Now the classic era is past. In the Age of the Afterclap, the conquerors of reality (always reality: the "Boom" writers, though often playful and described as "magical," were never fantasists) are more modest in their pretensions. "Deicide," as Mr. Vargas Llosa called it, has largely given way to reflection and subtlety, smaller narrative enclosures, cohabitation with a less demonic muse. The subject may even be, as in Mr. Vargas Llosa's new novel, "The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta," the failure of the enterprise itself - though even here, echoes of the "total novel" resound still.

You can find the full review here.

Buy The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta at

Borges: A Life by Edwin Williamson

Borges: A Life by Edwin Williamson

A review of Edwin Williamson's biography of Jorge Luis Borges

Borges once wrote that "All literature is autobiographical, in the last instance." For Edwin Williamson, however, it is autobiographical in the first instance too. He reads Borges' poetry and fiction as sublimations of the Argentine's erotic daydreams and disappointments, or as reflections of conflicted feelings about his country's true national character -- was Argentina best represented by the high-born criollo of relatively pure Spanish blood or by the romantic gaucho and knife-wielding compadrito? Rather surprisingly, especially in a professor of Spanish at Oxford, Williamson appears to have only the slightest interest in, say, "The Zahir" or "The Aleph" as highly original works of art. They are viewed as refractions of their author's emotional crises. When Borges claims The Divine Comedy to be the greatest masterpiece of world literature, his biographer immediately jumps in to point out that Dante's love for Beatrice replicates that of Borges for the poet and novelist Norah Lange. The poetry is regarded as straightforwardly or symbolically confessional, and so mined for insights into the writer's psyche.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Borges: A Life at

The Good Conscience by Carlos Fuentes

Review of Carlos Fuentes' The Rights of Desire

Anyone who has visited Guanajuato (at once the cradle of Mexican independence and a citadel of surviving conservatism) will agree that those richly adorned eighteenth-century alleys--now crawling with outcasts and beggars--would make the perfect setting for a novel of the Mexican conscience. Anyone who read Carlos Fuentes' first novel, "Where the Air Is Clear," would concede that few Mexican novelists could be better prepared than he to explore a moral progress against such a background.

Having reviewed that sprawling, ambitious, brilliant book in these pages just a year ago (and having noted a difficulty in deciding with which of several images of Mexico the young identified himself), I confess astonishment at the single-mindedness with which Fuentes now focuses on a single theme. (I confess another kind of astonishment to find the puritanism of the Mexican upper middle-class so far exceeding that of our own.) "The Good Conscience" is much shorter than his first novel. It zeroes in relentlessly on the coming-of-age of an adolescent whose every impulse to Christian behavior and social idealism is thwarted by the insensitive materialism of his family.

You can find the full review here.

Buy The Good Conscience at

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life by Adam Feinstein

A review of Pablo Neruda's biography A Passion For Life by Adam Feinstein

On the other hand, in nearly 500 pages this biography sets out Neruda's family background, his conversations, his spats, his travels, his habits, his reading, his houses, his loves and his betrayals - even his meals. It describes Neruda's three wives, who get surprisingly short shrift in Neruda's own account of his life: the tall, awkward woman he married in Batavia, Maruca; the fabulous Delia del Carril, an Argentine aristocrat and a communist who for 18 years served as Neruda's political mentor, adviser, secretary and factotum; and the determined, practical Chilean, Matilde Urrutia, who looked after Neruda in his final years. In doing so, it draws on Neruda's letters, his friends' and acquaintances' recollections and his essays, all set in the extraordinary history of his time.

As such, it is a serious accomplishment: not the story of a life as Neruda might have written it, but an excellent adjunct to his writing.

You can find the review here

Buy Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life at

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

A review of Isabel Allende's Portrait in Sepia.

It was the infamous coup in 1973 that first concentrated Allende's mind on politics and turned her into a storyteller of such stature. Since then, her novels have dogged the footsteps of her long journey from Chile to her adopted home, California. Apart from a slow change of scene, other influences have faded or matured - the magical realism is less intense now, less out there, and these days is expressed more as personal hallucination. In these last two novels, setting the political violence so far back in time gives it a cool, rather than a chilling, perspective - perhaps the naturally big-hearted Allende is attempting an exercise in understanding. Although it is the third book to be written of this trilogy, Portrait in Sepia is the prequel to her celebrated The House of the Spirits - her first novel and at the same time the last and most immediate act of this remarkable must-read family saga.

You can find the review here

Buy Portrait in Sepia at

Purity of Blood by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Reviews of Arturo Perez-Reverte's Purity of Blood.
Buy Purity of Blood at

In Arturo Perez-Reverte’s captivating stories, the world of Alexandre Dumas’s musketeers is ingeniously transposed to 1620s Madrid. Inigo Balboa, their narrator, recalls his experiences at that time as the page and protégé of Captain Alatriste, a taciturn swordsman for hire. The Spain of Inigo’s youth is a superpower enjoying a cultural golden age, with the painter Velazquez, the playwright de Vega and the poet-politician Quevedo (a recurring character in the series) all working in a city that is "the capital of two worlds, old and new". But he looks back on this era from a time of decline: the setting of "a sun that for two centuries had inspired fear and respect throughout the world".

You can find the review here

The furtive figure slips quietly into the darkened house, dressed in mufti rather than in his usual swirling cape. He is armed lightly, with only oiled flintlock, sword and dagger. As he slips toward the bed of his sleeping prey, his aquiline profile and luxuriant mustache are visible by the shadowy light of an oil lamp. Holding a knife to the chin of his latest conquest, he asks: "Do you know who I am?"

You bet we do. He is Capt. Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, the brooding, charismatic hero of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's wildly successful Spanish swashbuckling novels. He is profoundly cynical yet quietly principled, weary of battle yet ready to duel if he must. He is a man of few words but many melancholy gazes into the void. He has pale, steely eyes and a face that, when glacially calm, delivers "fair notice that it is advisable to take three steps back." This cool, taciturn 17th-century dreamboat will be played by Viggo Mortensen in a large-scale screen adaptation later this year.

You can find the full review here

Many historical novels are fluff: costume potboilers like ''The Dante Club." Some manage to be serious fiction that conveys something of the reality of life in another time and place, like Paul Scott's ''The Jewel in the Crown." ''Purity of Blood" is somewhere in between: It's vastly superior to the majority of what passes for historical fiction but doesn't approach the heights of the genre. It's great fun in the tradition of historical swashbucklers such as ''Three Musketeers" or ''The Scarlet Pimpernel," and yet it's not all sword fights and breakneck horseback rides. There's a sadness that gives the novel some depth: the sadness of Diego Alatriste. He spent his youth doing all the right things: He was brave, he served his king, and he was loyal to his comrades in arms. All he has to show for it is a rented room, a lot of old scars, and a line of work likely to kill him.

Pérez-Reverte made his name in the '90s with international bestsellers such as ''The Flanders Panel" (a hyperliterate murder mystery about art history and chess) and ''The Club Dumas" (a supernatural thriller about the antiquarian book trade). His detour into historical fiction became available to American readers last year with ''Captain Alatriste," which introduces Diego and Iñigo.

You can find the review here

The first of the novels, Captain Alatriste, was published in the United States last spring, after taking Europe by storm. It has been made into a movie starring Viggo Mortensen that might not make it to cineplexes: It's in Spanish.
Poor Alatriste, living in a corrupt and overripe Madrid caught between the failure of the Armada and the nightmare of the Inquisition. The gallant captain was wounded in the Thirty Years' War - I don't know what that was about, but never mind. He has no money to show for his courage and no trade except fighting, plus he drinks a lot and is generally melancholy in a heroic fashion.
Also, he has a lot of derring-do. Which he sorely needs in the series' second entry, Purity of Blood, after a friend gets him the job of breaking into a depraved convent and restoring a virtuous novice to her family.
Of course this doesn't go as planned, no thanks to Alatriste's teenage sidekick, Inigo. Let's see, how does it go? Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your sidekicks at home where they belong.
Though thrilling in places, the Alatriste stories are not meant to be raced through. This is the culture that perfected the art of strolling. The men of Madrid saunter, they swagger, they pause to compose or recite a few lines of verse, then they resume strolling right up to the moment they draw their swords, forged of the finest Toledo steel, and slash away at each other.
Pérez-Reverte has obligingly already written the next three books, so all we have to do is persuade Putnam to release them as quickly as possible.

You can find the review here

Buy Purity of Blood at

Buy Limpieza de sangre at

Walden Acquires Film Rights to a Trilogy by Isabel Allende

Walden Media bought the rights to a children's book trilogy (City of the Beasts, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, Forest of the Pygmies) by the Chilean author Isabel Allende.

Ms. Allende, a vigorous advocate of women's rights with a socialist background, seems like an odd match for Mr. Anschutz, a supporter of conservative causes who has been explicit in his desire to make what he considers moral movies. Cary Granat, a founder and the chief executive of Walden, said that Mr. Anschutz did not intervene in the decision-making at Walden Media. He said that to the company, Ms. Allende "is like a rock star." Her trilogy, which is about a boy and his archaeologist grandmother and their adventures in the Amazon, were a perfect fit for Walden Media.

"It gives an opportunity to tell something that is important to me, which is learning something from a grandparent," he went on. "And I think so many kids today have lost that ability to connect with the older generation."

Ms. Allende's books are published by HarperCollins, which also published the Narnia series. The first book in the trilogy, titled "City of the Beasts," will be produced by Barrie Osborne, who was also a producer of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

You can find the article here

Buy City of the Beasts at

Buy Kingdom of the Golden Dragon at

Buy Forest of the Pygmies at

Sunday, January 15, 2006

An interview with Guillermo Arriaga

An interview Mexican author Guillermo Arriaga, the screenwriter of 'The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada'

Even a brief reference to the titles and subject matter of Guillermo Arriaga’s work is enough to realize his raw material: death. It’s breath penetrates the screenplays, the novels, leaving an impression on the silver screen, whether its in 'Amores Perros,' '21 Grams,' or in 'The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,' the latter directed by Tommy Lee Jones.

Even when Arriaga ventured into directing with 'Rogelio' (2000), the dark inspiration was very much there: Rogelio cannot accept his death and carries on visiting his friends.

'Though I belong to a culture in which death is very prominent, I believe it’s some kind of personal obsession,' confessed the Mexican author, adding that what has determined his work so far, 'is an obsession with death and a passion for life.'

Indeed. Robust, with dark, piercing eyes, the 47-year-old Arriaga is full of life. A multifaceted man, Arriaga earned an award at the recent Cannes Film Festival for his screenplay 'The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,' while his works have been translated into a number of languages.

A guest at the 46th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Arriaga spoke to Kathimerini.

You can find the full interview here

Find Guillermo Arriaga's works at

Friday, January 13, 2006

Novelist Garcia Marquez's birthplace to vote on adding his fictional 'Macondo' to its name

ARACATACA, Colombia - "Welcome to the magical world of Macondo," reads a giant billboard outside Aracataca, the down-on-its-heels town surrounded by banana plantations where Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born.
Macondo, as the Nobel laureate's fans well know, is the fictitious tropical hamlet made famous in his masterwork, "One Hundred Years of Solitude."
Now Macondo and the author's birthplace near Colombia's Caribbean coast may become forever joined. To reverse a half-century of economic decline, town leaders hope to cash in on their favorite son's international fame by changing the town's name to "Aracataca-Macondo."

You can find the full article here

Find Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Books at

Final Exam by Julio Cortazar

A review of Julio Cortazar's Examen

There is a reason why that novel, "Final Exam", written in 1949-1950, has taken so long to see print. In an introductory note, Cortazar (who died in 1984, not long before a Spanish edition was finally produced) says merely that "it was impossible to publish the book then".

But much of the responsibility must be placed on the text itself, which is dense, challenging, obscure, highly allusive and at times incoherent, and generally lacks the magic that characterizes the mature Cortazar. At the same time, it is an ambitious, innovative and revealing book, so it will be welcomed by all the Undoomed, members of the Cult of Julio (since "anyone who doesn't read Cortazar is doomed", according to Pablo Neruda).

Cortazar always struggled with longer forms. His masterwork, "Hopscotch", overcomes this by piecing together stories, poems and essays, then allowing the reader to skip from one to another rather than reading them sequentially. But many of his other novels have a planned-out quality that diminishes the spontaneity found in his shorter prose. (Cortazar once wrote that he wanted his writing to be like a jazz ``take'': a single, continuous, improvisational riff.)

You can find the full article here.

Buy Final Exam at

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A review of Gabriel García Márquez's Vivir para contarla

Since the death of Jorge Luis Borges in 1986, the Spanish-speaking world's most celebrated living writer has been the Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "Gabo", as he's almost universally known, found an international readership in the late 1960s, when One Hundred Years of Solitude consolidated "el boom" of Anglophone interest in Latin American fiction.

Since then, Garcia Marquez has been venerated around the world, and by the time he won the Nobel Prize in 1982, his influence on other writers was so pervasive that "magical realism" eventually became a term of abuse. As he has often said, however, the distinctive manner of his best-known books is as rooted in his famously colourful upbringing as it is in his reading of Kafka, Faulkner and Joyce.

You can't fake this stuff, in other words - although this didn't stop an enormous number of writers from trying to do just that in the 1980s. As a result, one of the main points of interest for English-language readers of his new memoir is the extent to which it presents el maestro's novels as springing more or less directly from his family history.

Vivir para contarla - translated by Edith Grossman as Living to Tell the Tale - was a worldwide best-seller when it was published in Spanish last year. The first volume of a projected trilogy, it tells the story of the author's early life until 1955, when death threats from conservative readers of his journalism encouraged him to accept an extended assignment in Europe.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Living to Tell the Tale at

The Seven Madmen by Roberto Arlt

A review of Roberto Arlt's Los siete locos.

The Seven Madmen is set in Buenos Aires in the then-present-time of 1929 and opens with main character, Remo Erdosain, a self-described "hollow man, a shell moved simply by the force of habit" being accused of embezzling by his employer. That accusation sets loose a chain of events in his life, which ultimately lead him to a gathering of other discontents that make ruthless, detailed plans to set up a "bandit aristocracy." Erdosain is an anguished, pained man whose diatribes portray him as one of the madmen of the title. Nothing goes right for him: his wife, Elsa, leaves him for another man and he's a failed inventor. Darkness pervades his very being. In The Seven Madmen Erdosain is surrounded by various other characters, richly described by Arlt: Ergueta the pharmacist, a gambler with a religious side and his wife, Hipolita, a former prostitute; Gregorio Barsut, Elsa's cousin, a boorish moneyed man who's the focus of the madmen's kidnap plot.

You can find the full review here.

Buy The Seven Madmen at

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Roberto Arlt (Argentina)

Argentinean novelist, short-story writer, dramatist and journalist.


Roberto Arlt was born in April 2, 1900, in Buenos Aires.

He published El juguete rabioso, his first novel, in 1926. At that time he also began to write for the newspapers Crítica and El mundo. His daily column Aguafuertes Porteñas, appeared from 1928 to 1935 and later was compiled in the book of the same name. These articles are picaresque sketches of the people of Buenos Aires.

In 1935, he traveled to Spain and Africa sent by El Mundo, where he writes his Aguafuertes Españolas. But except for this trip and some escape to Chile and Brazil, he remained in Buenos Aires, as much in the real life as in his novels, Los siete locos and Los lanzallamas.
He died of a heart attack in Buenos Aires, in July 26, 1942.


1926 - El juguete rabioso (Mad Toy)
1929 - Los siete locos (The Seven Madmen)
1931 - Los lanzallamas
1932 - El amor brujo
1933 - Aguafuertes porteñas
1933 - El jorobadito
1936 - Aguafuertes españolas
1941 - El criador de gorilas
1960 - Nuevas aguafuertes españolas
1968 - Teatro completo
1997 - Cuentos Completos

Find Roberto Arlt's Books at

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo

A review of Luis Fernando Verissimo's Borges e os orangotangos eternos (Borges and the Eternal Orangutans)

Most writers feel passionate about Borges, but few would have the temerity to put the enigmatic sage into their fiction. That's because evoking Borges's presence would likely overwhelm any meager thoughts of their own. Yet Brazilian novelist Luis Fernando Verissimo has such temerity, as well as the talent to pull it off. Borges and The Eternal Orangutans does the master proud. (...)

Everything from the details of the characters' biographies to elusive one-liners like "Geography is destiny" connect when the fictional Borges solves the mystery in a letter that weaves together threads unspooled at the beginning of the book. Of course, solutions engender their own questions, and Borges's final statement -- "Even the most fantastical of stories . . . requires a minimum of verisimilitude" -- makes one wonder whether the similarity of the book's last word and the author's last name is a further hint to further mysteries. In any case, Borges and the Eternal Orangutans is an authentic whodunit as well as a loving homage to its eponymous detective and a serious meditation on the truths that Borges himself lived to reveal, intuit and invent.

You can find the full review here.

Buy Borges and the Eternal Orangutans at

Luis Fernando Verissimo was born in 1936 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the son of author Érico Verissimo. He is a journalist, humorist and novelist.

The Athenian Murders by José Carlos Somoza

A review of José Carlos Somoza's La caverna de las ideas

Like Russian dolls hidden inside one another, "The Athenian Murders" is a puzzle swathed in a mystery contained inside an enigma. A self-reflexive, literary murder novel, the first of Jose Carlos Somoza's six books to be translated into English stakes its claim on nothing less than the truth: of words, ideas, writing, reading and existence. It's a heavy task but one Somoza executes brilliantly with consistent, graceful prose.

The book opens in ancient Greece, with the death of a student at Plato's Academy. The Decipherer of Enigmas is contacted to help solve the case, and we follow what appears to be a straightforward crime plot. Yet the presence of a fictional translator, whose comments appear in well-crafted footnotes (adding another layer to a book that itself is being read in translation), clues the reader into another dimension of the novel and to its major conceit: The story set in Athens is actually an ancient text in the process of being translated by the unnamed translator. (...)

"The Athenian Murders" is a seductive, captivating yet intellectual novel. Constantly shuffling through the truth along with the characters, the mind is compelled through the book in a most engaging and satisfying way, a combination that is not easy to achieve. Only in the last chapter are the mysteries revealed, and even then it is we alone who are left to decide what it all means. As one character says to the translator, "Writing is a strange business, my friend. In my opinion, it's one of the strangest, most terrible things a man can do. Reading is another."

You can find the full review here.

Find Jose Carlos Somoza's Books at

Jose Carlos Somoza was born in Habana in 1959. A doctor of medicine, and specialist in psychiatry, he has been writing full-time since 1994.He has received, amongst other awards, the Cervantes Theatre Prize and the Café Gijon Prize, and in 2000 his novel Dafne Desvanecida was shortlisted for one of the most important Spanish literary prizes, the Nadal Prize. The Athenian Murders won the 2003 Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award.

Edition of Cuban poet Regino Eladio Boti's poems

British publisher releases english version of Cuban poet Regino Eladio Boti's poems.

A collection of the best literary works of Cuban poet Regino Eladio Boti was translated into English and published in the easternmost region of Cuba as an accord between the Cervantes Institution based in London and descendants of the writer.

With the edition of Spirit of Brotherhood -Espiritu de Hermandad-London-based Mango Publishing released the first translation into English of poems by the Cuban intellectual.

As held by many critics, Boti renewed Hispanic American poetry of the early 20th century. His poems had been translated before into German by Janheinz Jahn in 1954, and into Russian by Pavel Grushco, 18 years later. (...)

MP is a small, quality independent press, which focuses on publishing and promoting literary works by writers from British, Caribbean and Latin American literary traditions.

It has published translations of important Cuban writers such as world renowned Nicolas Gillen; Nancy Morejon, a winner of the National Literary Prize; among others.

You can find the full article here.

The Years with Laura Díaz by Carlos Fuentes

Reviews of Carlos Fuentes's Los Años con Laura Díaz (The Years with Laura Díaz)

Carlos Fuentes, occasionally dubbed the Mexican Balzac, makes no bones about the grand plans he has for this vast, panoramic novel. "The hell that is Mexico," says one of the characters named Santiago (there are four, they are all related to one another, and they all die miserably). "Are we predestined for crime, violence, corruption, poverty?" Throughout, rhetorical questions, impassioned speeches, fraught dialogues and urgent declarations dominate the book's spoken content; characters are far more likely to debate the heroic or treacherous qualities of Bukharin or the conduct of the Spanish civil war than they are to pass the time of day in idle pleasantries.

But Fuentes is aware that readers need human contact, and thus he gives us Laura Diaz, eye-witness, eavesdropper and occasional participant in the grand march of history - as well as daughter, wife, mother and, in order to give the novel some light entertainment, a rather racy lover of extraordinary stamina.

You can find the full review here.

Carlos Fuentes, perhaps the best-known representative of Mexico's scholarly and artistic community, decided to create his chronicle of the 20th century through fiction -- and through the eyes of a Mexican woman born at the dawn of that century, Laura Diaz. Nobody would wish to question Fuentes' choice of narrative focus. His character sees the whole century from a corner of the world where the view might be clearer -- think of a runner not in the lead of a race, able to see all the other competitors that a leader can't. Mexico, after all, is tucked in close to the boisterous United States, and women, though a rising force, have usually played the role of witness to history.
The epic begins in the spirit of a Zorro-style 19th century Mexican history.

You can find the full review here.

Buy The Years with Laura Diaz at

Diary of Andrés Fava by Julio Cortázar

A review of Julio Cortázar's Diario de Andrés Fava (Diary of Andrés Fava)

This previously unpublished portion of an early work by Cortázar is actually a fragment of a fragment. Ostensibly the daily jottings of Andrés Fava, a peripheral character in the novel 'Final Exam', the text offers a whirlwind voyage through Cortázar's mind. Written in 1950 and set in an eerie, fog-bound Buenos Aires, it anticipates the mental games and mortal quests of the great Argentine writer's masterpiece, 'Hopscotch', and more experimental works like 'Cronopios and Famas' and 'Around the Day in Eighty Worlds'. Overflowing with existential riffs and noirish turns, the narrative also features notes on jazz and appearances by phantasmagoric creatures of the imagination. 'This notebook is a cage full of monsters', Cortázar writes, 'and outside is Buenos Aires'.

You can find the review here.

Buy Diary of Andres Fava at

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and John Barth - Septuagenarian Grandmasters

A review of John Barth's Where 3 Roads Meet and Gabriel Gárcia Márquez's Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Brandon Stosuy.

Slowing down as he enters his 10th decade, he resurrects his whoring after a period of an "erratic" rereading of the classics and digging into his "private programs of concert music." Ergo, he phones his favorite brothel and requests a virgin; against odds, the shrewd madam-a particularly enjoyable character-finds one. The girl's 14, works in a button factory, has good skin, sleeps through their "dates." Smitten, Scholar names her after the folk character Delgadina, a king's youngest daughter "wooed by her father," and turns his traditional newspaper columns into "love letters that all people could make their own."

In the past, García Márquez conjured "false memories," but here there are false futures. As his narrator posits, "the adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia."

You can find the full review here.

Buy Memories of My Melancholy Whores at
Buy Where Three Roads Meet at