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review 2020-04-27 23:25
It's foggy and rainy and this made me sad
Amigos por el Viento - Liliana Bodoc

This collection was so sad and melancholy. There are some tales calling hope (though I have some issues with "Ancient hunts" that I have trouble verbalizing; I think I'd end up with an essay on subtle ways of racism, and race guilt, and so much soapy hot water), and "The lover and the other" is pretty positive, but it's difficult to offset the tragedy of "Fruit candies and grey eyes".

The writing is lyric as always with Bodoc; at some points it works and at others it read to me as a bit too plainly florid or forced, but I had this sense that I would have loved it as a tween.

There seems to be an underlying theme of duality, or duets, in all the things where you need two, be it struggle, friendship, love, family, support, example to follow. The afterword, talking about how a story written is a half of it that gets completed when it's read by the reader, seems to give credence to it.

The presentation and illustration in the volume gives it an extra bump up. Extra kudos for the editor for the whole arrangement, specially in the order of stories. "Bridge of sand" is the best of the lot and is a good way of closing the collection on a positive note.

In the whole, I'm pretty ambivalent, and damn depressed so, eh.

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review 2019-08-29 10:28
A tale is a tail
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez,Edith Grossman

Several stray thoughts I had while choosing the tags for this one:

 

It's not really romance-done-right. While the title is scrupulous, there is little romance to all the types of "loves" (because there is always that doubt, of what is and is not love, what is selfish use, or abuse, and whether that frontier is concrete) weaved into the tapestry of the story. Most are too real or too fantastical, or grotesque (and still real, maybe more so), and the ways they happen are written just so; with all the anxiety, the terror, hesitation, thoughtlessness, doubts, crudity or day-to-day boredom that merits the occasion.

 

Wanted to tick better-than-expected but I still don't know why I am surprised by his writing.

 

This one is not magical-realism. Actually, leaving aside One Hundred Years of Solitude , I don't know that any of his other books would fit that one. Might be the grandiose, nearly mythic proportions of the stories he pieces together in his novels.

 

 

It is an odd and frankly ambitious book. It immerses you into the story by way of an octogenarian last chapter no less, and after it wraps you in, tells you how two seventy-somethings traveled through 50 years of other loves to re-meet as lovers. It meanders through the years and the relationships, and the depictions when gathered turn into a tapestry that is nothing less than epic in scope.

 

I can't say that I truly liked any of the characters, and yet, maybe I loved them all, in their terrible intensities. They are certainly memorable.

 

As always, I take off my hat to his opening and closing sentences, to the strange feats and acrobatics he manages from the language, to the way he depicts the shiny and the rotten side by side, making something amazing and nostalgic of a nature core of reality.

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text 2019-08-24 23:58
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 348 pages.
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez,Edith Grossman

Whenever I read another of his books, It's like I rediscover the weird ways he uses words and how damn good the writing paints things in your head. I don't know how well that's is captured in translation though. Like:

 

.... la ayudó a acostarse en una cama de sábanos tersas y almohadas de plumas que le infundieron de pronto el pánico instantáneo de la felicidad.

 

... porque su pretendida era la más preciada de una familia típica de la región: una cábila intrincada de mujeres bravas y hombres de corazón tierno y gatillo fácil, perturbados hasta la demencia por el sentido del honor.

 

Which are two bits from the same page.

 

Also, I love how the daily made grandiose resonates with our family legacy stories. I mean, the little tortures that culminate in an absent bar of soap that almost terminates a marriage of 30 years? A man holding a torch for 50? Dying for a parrot? Keeping an affair secret for decades just because? It hits something close to funny, like there is an implausible and grotesque air to them, but in the end you laugh because goodness, did the elders of your family have stories to share in lazy afternoons.

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review 2019-04-23 05:21
I was a feminist before I knew what that meant
Mujercitas: Eran Las de Antes? y Otros Escritos: (El Sexismo En Los Libros Para Chicos) - Graciela Beatriz Cabal

I loved these essays when I was 12, and I loved them all over again 20 years later. Part of it is that I've never read something of this author that I did not love. Part of it is that I happen to agree with much of what she present here.

 

Mostly, is how she writes this: The subtitle is "Sexism in children books"

 

She proceeds to write about her primary school experience, interspersing it with textbook and the accompanying "pseudo-literature" (that's what she calls it) quotations and bibliography. She never says "this was sexist", "this was racist", "this was unfair". But boy, does it come across. At points it's so ridiculous, you can't help but laugh.

 

She talks about the roles of women in fairy and traditional tales. She talks about explicitly (and sometimes either horrifyingly or hilariously, or both, missing the point) tacking on moralizing end-lines to fables. There are also among the pages pictures of old advertising posters geared toward women. OMG, those posters.

 

The last essay is one that is dear and near to my heart (and my mom, as a die-hard librarian): this pervasive idea (that needs to be killed with fire) that children literature is "a women thing", because it is more about children (clearly, a province of the female) than about literature, and on this triple insult of "women write badly" "children do not understand much" "bad literature produced by women is therefore a perfect match".

 

It is a very short book. It can be read in an hour. But is a powerful one, that charms you as you read, that stays in your mind, that makes you squint your eyes at what you read after (and oh, boy, did I tear though some fairy tales collections afterwards).

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text 2018-09-12 21:12
Reading progress update: I've read 69 out of 264 pages.
Ami 3. Civilizaciones internas (Spanish Edition) - Enrique Barrios

How aware is this guy that what he wrote is a fit allegory for acceptance of homosexuality?

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