for those who are in or around sane

Friday, May 8

april books

forever by pete hamill

this was a christmas present from my good pal e. she's loved this book for quite a few years and thought i may enjoy it too as it contains a subtle element of magical realism. she was right. i needed a really good story-story and this satisfied the craving.

cormac o'connor - half irish half jewish - was born in the ulster area of ireland in the mid-1700's. he arrives in new york in 1741, following the man who killed his parents, seeking revenge and adventure. what he recieves is success, a near-fatal wound and subsequently, the gift of eternal life. the one rule to his eternal life is that he has to stay on the island of manhattan forever.

i enjoyed seeing the changes in manhattan through cormac's patient and time-weary eyes. the author is a successful new yorker himself and lovingly wears away the years, mistakes, corruption and the beauty of the island's history through cormac's life and loves. some of the prose was a bit "too pretty" and saturated in awe but i didnt let that bother me. pretty much, this was the perfect precursor to my annual trip to the big apple.

pedro paramo by juan rulfo

that's my summary. you can read below, but... suffice to say, no need. just get the book.

i'm belated in my april book posting because of this 124-page novella. it's powerful. it's gorgeous and haunting... it's stayed with me long after i finished reading #1. yep. reading #1. i decided, after getting through it in 3 short sittings, that i should dedicate two or so hours to read it in entirety. twice.

rulfo, a reclusive and renowned mexican author, winds the story of the purgitorial town, comala. juan preciado promises his mother, delores, on her deathbed that he will return to her hometown, comala, and meet his father, pedro paramo. he promises to make paramo own up to all he stole from delores. what he finds is a whole town filled with ghosts whose lives were stolen by the same man. all of the villagers were affected by selfish pedro paramo. one by one, all open their voices from the grave to relay their stories over and over to whomever is listening. a constant of purgatory that pulls juan preciado down (up?) and into the stories that make the town what it remains.

as a lapsed catholic, i found the religion part of this story absolutely facsinating. as a magic realism fan, i found the book enthralling and compelling. as someone who has nightmares after watching horror films, i slept poorly for two nights straight. this is not a warning to others - there is no outward violence or ghostly encounter in the book. everything is so subtle - the true meaning of the word "haunting." it simply stayed with me and took over my imagination.

apparently rulfo took years to finish this story - honing and honing until each word and letter was perfect. the translation i read (the one linked above) is the best english one out there. this make me want to learn spanish. is it possible that this book is better in another language? i'd love to find out.



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