Around the World for a Good Book selection for Colombia
Author: Gabriel García Márquez
Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Translator: Gregory Rabassa
Narrator: John Lee
Publication Info: Blackstone Audio (2014) (originally published 1967)
Other books read by the same author: Love in the Time of Cholera
I always find it difficult to review a book that is a recognized classic. What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said before. I enjoyed this book a lot, and I was surprised it was so funny (it was meant to be funny, I hope?), at least parts of it. I also couldn’t keep track of all the characters but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that is not as vital as the story of the town of Macondo itself with its sleepless sickness, civil wars with civil generals (but gruesome executions), and endless rain. There’s also the books style and use of words and imagery that set it apart from your typical novel. This novel is also rich in symbolism encapsulating an alternate history of Colombia.
So there you have it, my very short and very dumb review of a classic work of literature. Here’s all you need to know: read it!
“Fernanda was scandalized that she did not understand the relationship of Catholicism with life but only its relationship with death, as if it were not a religion but a compendium of funeral conventions.”
“Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.”
Recommended books: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
So, the FIFA World Cup ended over a month ago, but I still used this year’s tournament as inspiration to revive my ongoing Around the World for a Good Book project. The basic gist is that I’m attempting to read a work of fiction (in English or English translation) from every country in the world. So far I’ve been able to read literature from more fifty nations, but I’ve stalled out the past couple of years.
My goal for 2014 is to try to read a book for all 32 nations represented in this years World Cup. Luckily, countries I’ve read abundantly – such as England and the United States – as well as other countries I’ve read for the project were represented in the tournament, so I will only have 12 books to read to complete the field.
Here are the books I’ve read, or plan to read, for the World Cup nations of 2014. As always, I’m open to suggestions.
Author: Johan Harstad
Title: Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion
Publication Info: New York : Seven Stories Press, c2011.
Summary/Review: This book from Norway, recently translated into English by Deborah Dawkin, is the latest book I’ve received free from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and a book for my Around the World for a Good Book project. The narrator/protagonist is a young man named Mattias who seems to be content with not standing out or being noticed for anything. Hence his fascination with Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon.
After a long-time girlfriend leaves him, Mattias goes to the Faroes Islands with his friend’s band and suffers a mental breakdown. He’s picked up by a psychiatrist who runs a sort of halfway house for people with mental and emotional problems trying to ease back into society. Mattias moves in and over the next couple of years details his new life on the Faroes. Plot is secondary as the narrative is mainly an internal dialogue of a man coming to terms with his loneliness and depression.
Mattias is not always a sympathetic character but I relate to him a lot. I like what Harstad is trying to do exploring the interior anguish of Mattias, but I have to admit that the book is overlong. Still I recommend reading it, I find it reminiscent of the work of Haruki Murakami.
One should beware of Fridays.
They promise so much.
Like movie trailers.
Only rarely do they live up to expectations.
Most Fridays are lousy sequels.
Back to the Future Part III.” – p. 43
“The brain is a strange contraption. A library with a messy librarian. And in the floors below, in the cellar, there are vaults, filled to the ceiling with books and journals, dissertations and papers that are scarcely ever asked for.” – p. 181
Recommended Books: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, and The Museum Guard by Howard Norman.
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Publication Info: Penguin Highbridge (Aud) (2005)
Summary/Review: This is an epic, sprawling book set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War, under the fearful reign of Franco. A boy named Daniel is taken by his father to a mysterious bookshop called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and selects one volume which he is sworn to protect. Daniel falls in love with the book and wishes to learn more about its author Julián Carax of whom little is known. Worse, a sinister person is finding and burning all of Carax’s books. From this comes something of a thriller and a mystery as well as a paean to books and reading which tells the parallel stories of Daniel and Carax and the evil forces they have to contend. The book has its failings in that the dialogue (or at least the translation) is full of cliches and it goes on longer than it need be, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s a nice tribute to books and authors and the joy of reading. I’m provisionally making this my Around the World For a Good Book selection for Catalonia, mainly because I like to read my AWFGB books in print, but I think it is a good choice otherwise.
Recommended books: The Little Book by Selden Edwards