Spanish Lit Month: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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…you want me to invent a fable that will make the unwary fall on their knees and persuade them that they have seen the light, that there is something to believe in, something to live and die for-even to kill for?”

“Exactly. I’m not asking for you to invent anything that hasn’t already been invented, one way or another. I’m only asking you to help me give water to the thirsty.

This prequel to The Shadow of the Wind holds the same mystery and wonderfully tense atmosphere, with a dedication to books which borders on religious. Andreas Corelli, French publisher with the ever present angel brooch on his lapel, makes the above proposition to author David Martin. He wants David to write a book that has less to do with containing a story than it does with harboring a soul for The Angel’s Game has nothing to do with angels, but everything to do with love, revenge and bibliophilia.

We find the Cemetery of Forgotten Books here again, which is a fortress of tunnels and bridges all leading to a cathedral made of books.

This place is a mystery. A sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and loved and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands, a new spirit…

Andreas Corelli’s game is played out on this board, involving the beautiful city of Barcelona with its real streets, such as Calle Santa Ana on which can be found the bookshop belonging to Sempere & Son, and the real cathedral, Santa Maria del Mar. It is an intricate retreat into the dangers and hopes that novels give us, all with a touch of Spain that is perfect for Spanish Literature Month.

Before I go, a few favorite quotes:

“I don’t trust people who say they have a lot of friends. It’s a sure sign that they really don’t know anyone.”

“May I offer you anything? A small glass of cyanide?”

“We can only accept as true what can be narrated.”

“There is nothing in the path of life that we don’t already know before we start. Nothing important is learned; it is simply remembered.”

Spanish Lit Month, Paris in July: Something Old and Something New To Read

One of the great joys of blogging about books are the reading events of the summer. I speak particularly of Spanish Lit Month, hosted by Richard and Stu, as well as Paris In July hosted by Tamara.

I have begun La Regenta with Tom of Wuthering Expectations, but alas, my expectations lessen the further I read. I had high hopes of it resembling more of Madame Bovary and less of Spain’s boring theologians and their hierarchy. Perhaps I will continue, but if not, I am looking at these:

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Albina and the Dog-Men by Alejandro Jodorowsky, translated from Spanish by Alfred Macadam. Restless Books site says:

From the psychomagical guru who brought you The Holy Mountain and Where the Bird Sings Best comes a supernatural love-and-horror story in which a beautiful albino giantess unleashes the slavering animal lurking inside the men of a small village.

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I am one third of the way into Cathedral by the Sea by Idefonso Falcones, translated by Nick Caistor, which is set in 14th century at the height of the Inquisiton and describes the building of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona. It reminds me of Ken Follett’s Pillars of The Earth, which I think is a good thing.

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For Paris in July I plan on reading this slim volume, Ripening Seed, by Collette. It is described here as thus:

The author captures that precious, painful moment when childhood retreats at the onslaught of dawning knowledge and desire. Philippe and Venca are childhood friends. In the days and nights of late summer on the Brittany coast, their deep-rooted love for each other loses its childhood simplicity.

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Finally, there is a new release from Eleanor Brown, The Light of Paris. Popsugar says it’s:

“A charming novel about living life on your own terms that will make you long for the streets of Paris.”

Although, it doesn’t take much for me to long for the streets of Paris. A walk in Chicago has much the same effect, to tell you the truth. At any rate, these are a few titles I’m thinking of for July, before the (Wo)Man Booker Shadow reading begins with Frances and others. So glad for time off to enjoy my bookish passion.