One Hundred Years of Solitude, for Spanish Lit Month, for Stu’s read-along

20190731_064801It’s almost a mystical experience, to read One Hundred Years of Solitude. Exaggeration abounds, and emotions take on physical qualities like this:

…the persistence of Amaranta, whose melancholy made the noise of a boiling pot. (p. 216)

Seemingly endless streams of sons are named Aureliano, or Arcadio, until I become thoroughly confused, giving up on their specific heritage and simply reading for what I wanted to know: the meaning of the title.

Melquídas, an ancient gypsy who visits the Buendía family through its many generations, refuses to translate his manuscripts, the letters of which “looked like clothes hung out to dry on a line, and they looked more like musical notation than writing.”

“No one must know their meaning until he has reached one hundred years of age,” he explained.  (p. 201)

The novel contains war, and firing squads, gold coins and illegitimate children. There are explanations for religion and political parties which seem as if they could apply to America today.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, who had received their power directly from God, proposed the establishment of public order and family morality. They were the defenders of Christ, of the principle of authority, and were not prepared to permit the country to be broken down into autonomous entities. (p. 104)


It has become so tedious to continue. I feel I am treading water, getting no where, and sinking deeper. The story has lost its magical quality for me as I become mired in its opacity, and I cannot go any longer with no clear story line…nothing happening but more sons of the same name being born.

More than three-quarters of the way through, I’m laying it down. Sorry, Stu, I tried. And I look forward to your thoughts on a book so many people love more than I can.

August Is (Still) Spanish Lit Month; August is Women In Translation Month

Since I don’t have to prepare a classroom in August for the first time in 35 years, I can focus on literature this month. Since Spanish Lit Month and Women In Translation Month align, I can read for both at the same time. And so, we have the books in my kindle and on my shelf:

Umami by Laia Jufresa (translated by Sophie Hughes)

From OneWorld Publications:

Using five voices to tell the singular story of life in an inner city mews, Umami is a quietly devastating novel of missed encounters, missed opportunities, missed people, and those who are left behind. Compassionate, surprising, funny and inventive, it deftly unpicks their stories to offer a darkly comic portrait of contemporary Mexico, as whimsical as it is heart-wrenching.

Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo (translated by Charlotte Coombe)

From Charco Press:

From internationally acclaimed author Margarita García Robayo comes Fish Soup, a unique collection comprising two novellas plus the book of short stories Worse Things (winner of the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize)
Throughout the collection, García Robayo’s signature style blends cynicism and beauty with an undercurrent of dark humour. The prose is at once blunt and poetic as she delves into the lives of her characters, who simultaneously evoke sympathy and revulsion, challenging the reader’s loyalties as they immerse themselves in the unparalleled universe that is Fish Soup.

I am so excited to read these two this month, while hopefully also fitting in Javier Marias’ Fever and Spear.

And you? Do you have plans for Spanish Lit Month? Women in translation?

Spanish Literature Month…Another Reason I Love to Blog in July

Bolaño & Borges shelfHere is a photograph of Richard‘s Bolano shelf. I think I have one of them: 2666. My knowledge of Spanish literature is less than admirable, and so it is with great anticipation that I embark on another Spanish literature month with Richard and Stu.

There are the obvious choices from which to choose, obvious to me at least: Julia Alvarez, Isabelle Allende, Sandra Cisneros. I have loved the books that each of these women have written, for somehow I do better with female Spanish authors than male. I never even finished Roberto Bolano’s 2666 or The Savage Detectives (but I did make it through Monsieur Pain!).

This year I’m going to follow a few recommendations from others. When Jacqui and I read Javier Marias’ Infatuations we were both so taken with it that we exchanged several emails to discuss it further between ourselves. So of course, I must take up her suggestion of A Heart so White.

Last year, Scott reviewed Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, and I was so intrigued by his review that I immediately downloaded it on my kindle. But, as it is yet unread I will pick it up this month.

What would blogging be without old friends to host enticing challenges, and new friends to give recommendations? My life is immeasurably enriched by those of you who blog with me; without your input I would find myself in an endless circle of what is only in my own experience.

Do you have any other titles that I ought to read for Spanish Lit Month this July?