Thursday, September 20, 2012

I can read weird things in Spanish now, too

finished September 8th: Aura by Carlos Fuentes

Weird book. Short, meant to be a little spooky and mysterious and sensual and surreal-ish and all that, variously described as "dreamlike" and "complex."  I don't know if I'd really call it complex, although there is definitely a lot going on under the surface. But it definitely does weird narrative things and blurs the lines between reality/fantasy, dreaming/waking, knowing/desiring, etc.

I have been a little familiar with Carlos Fuentes ever since I blew off one of his books that I was assigned to read during college. (Uh...sorry!)  I've never read his biggies, The Death of Artemio Cruz, but my kind Spanish-speaking-and-teaching comparative lit professor from USC who recommended me a few "greatest hits" of literatura en espaƱol for me to read during my stay in Mexico, suggested Aura for my Fuentes sample instead, and I picked it up for a mere 80 pesos in a bookstore a couple weeks ago.

Since it's short, I read it quickly, and it was definitely not difficult, though I had to look up maybe a handful of words. It just reminded me of a surrealist painting, really. That is the best way that I can describe it. A little bit of that dark, gothic feel, an interesting narrative structure (second person! that almost never happens), and yet also packing an educational punch by filling us in on a bit of Mexico military history, too. All in all, if you're an intermediate Spanish student looking to practice reading, you can't go wrong with this book! I have no idea if the mysterious feel of the book will get lost in translation -- probably not with a good translator, which I'm assuming there is for the works of Fuentes, so go ahead and read it in English, too.

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