Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I’ve just finished reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The premise is quite unusual, something of a mainstream novel but with a mystery underlying it. The young protagonist, Daniel is still quite a young boy when his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There he chooses a book entitled The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. Carax was neither a very popular nor a successful author. Only ninety copies of The Shadow... was sold in Spain. Carax only wrote eight books during his lifetime. As Daniel grows to be a young adult he finds that someone is buying every copy he can find and burning them. A strange shadowy man who limps follows our young protagonist and offers to buy the book. This, I think, is a book which any book lover would find fascinating. Certainly it begins with an enticing premise.

Here’s a quote as Daniel’s father tells his son about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books: "This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time a person runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. The place was already ancient when my father brought me here for the first time, many years ago. Perhaps as old as the city itself. Nobody knows for certain how long it has existed, or who created it. I will tell you what my father told me, though. When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands. In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend. Now they have only us, Daniel. Do you think you will be able to keep such a secret?"

The author is being compared to Perez-Reverte, Eco, Paul Auster, Marquez. The plot is complex and more than a bit sad. Daniel’s copy of Carax’s book may be the last one in existence. What are the dark secrets behind this tale of Barcelona in the mid-fifties?


Blogger adamosf said...

I read SHADOW OF THE WIND a few months ago, and enjoyed it myself. I have a review of it in the current VoP, which is a bit behind in copying and mailing, so I'll post the review at my own blog for comparison's sake.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Andy J said...

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND is in a class by itself and nearly everything else comes out second best in a comparison to it. It's the kind of book writers say they wrote because it's the kind of book they would love to read themselves and there's nothing like it that exists. As you're reading it you feel as if you've stumbled upon a treasure. The idea of a Cemetary of Forgotten Books gives hope to all writers that their work won't fade into oblivion. But as well received as SHADOW was it still didn't get as much attention as it deserved and this book too will fade from the collective memory all too soon. It's a haunting book and I certainly won't forget it. I don't feel the need to own much fiction but this book is a must own for me.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home