Books Read / Films Seen / Spanish Lit Round-Up

Books read can be found here, films seen here (I notice I hadn’t updated films seen for 4 months, so that’s quite a few films).

This month I almost entirely read Spanish literature, only twice reading books not translated for the language (one of which, And the Money Kept Rolling In, was, to be fair, about the Argentinian debt crisis, so at least followed the theme). I quite enjoyed reading a single language for a month, having to force myself a little not to stray, and might try it another month at some point.

I read five novels and one novella, of which my favourite was Miguel Angel Asturias’ The President. I am also in the middle of a further five Spanish-language novels (Goytisolo, Carpentier, Sanchez Ferlosio, Pérez de Ayala and Cortázar – and I suppose Lezama Lima as well), and there are still plenty I wanted to read but never got around to. Two novels I started didn’t really enthuse me, Adolfo Bioy Caesares’ Asleep in the Sun and Juan José Saer’s The Sixty-Five Years of Washington.

I read short stories by Juan Valera, Pedro A de Alarcón, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Eusebio Blasco, Carlos Coello, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Silvina Bullrich, Alejo Carpentier, Rafael Dieste, Wesceslao Fernández Flórez, Ánxel Fole, Pere Gimferrer, Juan Goytisolo, Alberto Insúa, Javier Marías, and Eduardo Mendoza. The last was my favourite, but since it was merely an excerpt from a novel (No News from Gurb), I’ll go instead for Marías’ decidedly Borgesian Gualta (and I’m not much of a Marías fan).

Next month I shall spend finishing books I’ve started, before the situation becomes untenable.

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4 thoughts on “Books Read / Films Seen / Spanish Lit Round-Up

  1. That’s quite a month of reading, señor Obooki; I think I counted twelve writers I’ve never read before I lost interest in counting, and I’d never even heard of three or four of the short story writers before. Too bad about the Saer; people seem to love that one or hate it. I get that “didn’t really enthuse me” doesn’t actually translate to “hate,” but I bet that horribly mistranslated/totally fabricated title put a jinx on your reading experience. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

  2. Short stories: up to Pardo Bazán come from a book called Spanish and Portuguese Short Stories (mostly c19th stories), Bullrich and Carpentier come from Latin-American Literature Today (“Today” being in this case 1977), and from Dieste to the end are from The Dedalus Book of Spanish Fantasy. Just received a novel by Bullrich (Tomorrow I’ll Say, Enough), whom I’d not heard of before.

    It must have been subconscious if it was title which put me off the Saer; as far as I was actually aware, it will just the fact that it didn’t seem to go anywhere whatsoever, just consisted of a man walking down a street.

  3. Road to Perdition is a funny one: so high-quality, such strong materials, yet such a milquetoast result. In retrospect, the problem was possibly that the finished film looks and sounds like one long cliche (although that doesn’t harm umpteen other gangster movies). Possibly it is The Hanks Factor, although for me The Law Factor plays a role as well. Or is it structural? – the 30s! Newman! Irish gangsters! – all wrapped round a plot that is essentially About a Boy.

  4. It’s just Hanks, I’m sure (although yes, the film is a stream of cliches); he can’t play a bad guy, not even when the bad guy is really a good guy. American Gangster also has a very similar feel to it: a gangster film that could have been good in theory but wasn’t.

    On the other hand, Seijun Suzuki’s gangster flick, Youth of the Beast, is just a rip-off of A Fistful of Dollars, but is great fun.

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