January 2020 Wrap-Up

Amulet [1999/2006] by Roberto Bolaño – ★★★★★

Amulet impressed me the most in January, and this is only my second novel by Roberto Bolaño. This story is told by Auxilio Lacouture, a woman who proclaims herself to be “the mother of Mexican poetry” and who is friends with up-and-coming poets, writers and artists in Mexico City. When she is left stranded in an empty and already raided by the army university, she starts to reminisce, opening to us the world which is both imaginative and realistic, artful and honest, uplifting and dark.

The Belly of Paris [1873/2007] by Emile Zola ★★★★1/2

I cannot believe that the following two prominent classics on my list ended up below Roberto Bolaño’s Amulet, but here we go. The Belly of Paris, translated by Brian Nelson, tells of Florent, an escaped political prisoner, who arrives to Paris and tries to settle down with his half-brother’s family. He seems to be a newcomer who unwittingly disrupts the usual flow of life in the area. Zola shows the plight of the working-class in the city, and his descriptions of Les Halles, once a famed food market, are sumptuous and exquisitely-rendered. The characters are also interesting and the atmosphere is conveyed, even if the plot itself requires some patience.  Continue reading “January 2020 Wrap-Up”

The Astrology Book Tag

I saw this tag on Kristin Kraves Books (the original creator is Peace, Love, Veggies), and decided to give it a go because astrology is a fascinating esoteric study area (I am a Scorpio, btw). Each of the twelve zodiac signs has its own core personality description, and the headings below roughly reflect these descriptions. For example, the Libra sign is associated with balance in life, and, therefore, below is a request to name a book that is neither good nor bad (an equilibrium between good and bad is reached), and the sign of Leo is associated with power, pride and bravery, and, thus, there is a request below to name courageous characters in a book. As usual, I am not tagging anyone in particular, and everyone is welcome to participate. 

Como Agua Para Chocolate Book CoverI. ARIES – Name a book you’ve read that was full of fire, desire, and passion aries

Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) by Laura Esquivel 

When I think about boundless passion in books, this book by Mexican author Laura Esquivel just pops into my head instantly. Pedro and Tita’s forbidden love in this story is electrifying, and this story is about cooking and delicious food, too (Mexican recipes are included).  Continue reading “The Astrology Book Tag”

The Literary Adaptation Book Tag

Since my two recent book reviews were of books that resulted in major films – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and The Night of the Hunter – I have decided to have a go at this book tag about literary adaptations, slightly changing the original book tag seen at Milibroteca (a Spanish language book blog).

The English Patient Film PosterI. What is your favourite literary adaptation? 

Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient [1996] adapted from the novel of the same name [1992] by Michael Ondaatje.

The English Patient is far from being the most faithful adaptation, but Minghella (The Talented Mr Ripley [1999]) conveyed the spirit and atmosphere of the novel perfectly, and the film boasts great performances from Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliette Binoche. The score by Gabriel Yared (Betty Blue [1986]) is one of the most beautiful ever produced, too.

Virgin Suicides Film PosterII. What do you consider to be the best book-to-film adaptation?

Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides [1999] adapted from the novel of the same name [1993] by Jeffrey Eugenides. 

In my opinion, some of the best ever literary adaptations include Gone with the Wind [1939], Rosemary’s Baby [1968] and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone [2001], but there is still something very special about Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, so I choose that film. It is a beautiful, haunting adaptation which remains largely faithful to the source material. Coppola did an amazing job conveying the suburban claustrophobia and hidden despair and tension of the girls. Continue reading “The Literary Adaptation Book Tag”

The Fall Book Tag

Shanah at Bionic Book Worm has created this autumn-themed book tag, and I just could not resist doing another tag. 

  • The PrestigeCRISP FALL AIR – A book that felt fresh and new: Christopher Priest’s The Prestige [1995]

This book is far from perfect, but the idea behind seems original and the structure new. Most people will know the plot from Nolan’s film The Prestige (2006), but it is still an exciting read, even if you have seen the film (the book is different in its beginning and in its end). The plot mirrors the stages of a magician’s trick, and Christopher Priest provides the reader will all the hints to solve the mystery in the very beginning. There are a couple of surprises in the book, even though the story is also slightly predictable and goes into the direction of pure fantasy, which may not please everyone. 

  • The BeguiledHOWLING WINDS – An ending that blew you away: Thomas P. Cullinan’s A Painted Devil/The Beguiled [1966]

I was impressed with Cullinan’s The Beguiled. It is so much more underneath than this simple tale of girls living in a boarding school during the Civil War and their interactions with a wounded soldier who comes to the school’s doorstep. The book is psychologically interesting because it contains multiple unreliable narrators who, throughout the novel, try to persuade the reader that their version of events is true. It is up to the reader to make his or her mind up in the end. The ending is well crafted and did surprise me. Also, the film by Sofia Coppola did not do justice to the book or its characters at all, even though it was spot on regarding the atmosphere.  Continue reading “The Fall Book Tag”