Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz: The Shadow of the Wind

A complex book which partly parallels the history of Barcelona in the first sixty years of the 20th century with the city itself as
very much a character. The son of a bookseller is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he finds, or is found by, the eponymous title by a writer called Julian Carax. He then tries to find out what he can about the author and
his efforts to do so are, to some extent, a parallel with the writer's life though less tragically. The story unfolds episodically,
moving between the present of the young man and the present of the writer though it is quite late in the novel before there is
a relatively full version of the writer's life. The late chapters develop the Gothic nature of the novel which has earlier been noted only in smaller scenes. The writing is very clear and uncomplicated without being as terse as, for example, Hemingway. While certain aspects of the unfolding story both current and past may seem far-fetched, they fit and the possible strangeness is due to the different customs and moralities of the periods in question. A really excellent novel.

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