Happy World Book Day everybody! I bring with me an old friend published in 1949 —The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell— which is not a novel but a work of comparative mythology. This read is fundamental if you ever ask yourself why all the big stories share the same mechanics, why all the religions look like the same and why life is the great adventure where we need to confront fear, anxiety, and loss in order to finally overcome.
What can I write about Lorca? He was beyond poetry because was also a dedicated pianist. Manuel de Falla was his Maestro. Learned from him about the deep songs also known as Cante Jondo. So you cannot read Lorca without that intense notion about Duende, angel, and muse. Many scholars concur that Lorca cannot be Englished… Unless you dare to try reading this book—I truly respect translator Sarah Arvio and her burden—with some delicious Spanish ham paired with a glass of red wine. And perhaps you might channel for a moment that wonderful kid with a song for a poem, why not?
I adore Isabel Coixet since 1996. By then, this fearless Barcelonian filmmaker, decided to shoot a film in Portland called Things I Never Told You, written by herself, and hired American actors like Andrew McCarthy and Lili Taylor. It was a wonderful and inspiring debut. But now Coixet features The Bookshop, a movie adaptation of the acclaimed novel penned by Penelope Fitzgerald in the late ‘70s while she was mourning her husband’s passing, and found a way to get through such hardships in a mind-blowing autofiction that might have Ford Madox Ford in mind, I guess: “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”
Sometimes I wonder if truly exist anything like a healthy writer. You know, a truly vegan with a long list of forbidden foods and immaculate ruts, including 365 days of sobriety and no smoking. Reading The Trip to Echo Spring, I have plunged again into Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary genius fueled entirely by alcohol of all kinds and chain-smoking. And Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, John Berryman, Ernest Hemingway… Even so, the author of this enjoyable book missed out my dear Bill Faulkner. How dare she! In all that egregious list of red noses and matinee coughers, how can she forget that pairing of mint-julep and a pipe?
What I enjoy most about reading books is rereading one, especially when it has been forgotten for so many years and a large number of stupid reasons. It is just like to come across in a crazy party with a girlfriend long time lost: you barely recognize her and neither does she, that awkward situation. You cringe to some “What an unexpected pleasure!” to buy time holding close to you all those involuntary memories transcending—with the mysterious allure of a déjà vu—while you are blushing hopelessly because you come to realize that all you can remember is a salacious nickname, certainly the creepiest icebreaker ever, unless you are tipsy, flirting or high like a kite, yet still the ultimate truth that goes beyond time unaltered. Thirty years ago, I read An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro and given that had passed it along to another reader—this selfless way to share your own damn books when you truly liked them—I did not reread this one ever again. Had enough reading with the other big novel that followed in which the spark of genius was not an amazing surprise anymore but simply a solid ascertainment. Well deserved Nobel Prize in Literature 2017.