Yesterday, I had some time in the afternoon, and I decided to open the YA short book Maggot Moon. It was a fast and fascinating read. Yuri had mentioned this book because he translated it into Russian. He also translated another one, -non YA, but for adults- called Omon Ra, this time into English. The book has been translated into English previously, but I had not read it, and I opted for his translation.
By the way, if you have a Kindle, or a Kindle application (which is free for your device of choice), you can copy any text, save it as a word document, and email it to your Kindle email, and Amazon will make that document show in your Kindle or Kindle app. What’s my Kindle email, you may ask? Go to manage my Kindle, or to the settings on your application, and you’ll see it there.
I can see why Yuri was involved with both these books. They have a different audience, but the same main topic (the Soviet Space program. Not quite. Totalitarian regimes, first country to send men to the moon), and a similar feel. Reading both books, Oman Ra, and Maggot Moon, was a complementary and quite thought provoking experience.
After a late spring and summer with the amazing book club people reading The Gray House, I also read some books together with my favorite reading partner, Kim, and for bookclub, and those were The Daughter of Time, and Northanger Abbey. They were good titles, specially Northanger Abbey.
Right now, I’m still reading the fabulous poetry collection, Staying Alive, and with Kim (and also for my two classics challenges), Ten Fingers for God. It’s the biography of Dr. Paul Brand, an English doctor in India, specialized in leprosy, who worked in that country after WWI. I don’t know how this happened, but the first 3 pages moved me, and made me teary. The image of a man afflicted with a curable and non contagious case of leprosy, who was, nonetheless, ostracized and treated like a stray dog, a man arriving at Paul’s parents house, and receiving humane and tender care by Paul’s mother first, and by his father upon his return from a medical trip in the region, stirred up inside feelings of indignation and compassion.
And, as the two showing covers attest, I’m reading in Spanish. But both books have an English translation, -in case you are interested.
Los Pazos de Ulloa, translated The House of Ulloa, by Emilia Pardo Bazán, a writer contemporary of my favorite author, Benito Pérez Galdós. They were intimate for quite some time. It’s considered ‘naturalistic’, realistic, even a bit Gothic. It’s a XIX century novel, but placed in Spain. But this one will be once I finish my current book in Spanish, The Storyteller (El hablador), by Mario Vargas Llosa.
What can I tell you about it? Read it! Or not. Since Vargas Llosa is one of those authors that you love, or just don’t. He mesmerizes me. OK, I’ll tell you what you’ll find in this book, why I love it and its author. Vargas Llosa is Peruvian. Peru is a mix of generations coming from the Spaniards, and their rich and vast population from the diverse autochthonous people still present. There’s a chasm between the more colonial white cities, and the Amazons. The Storyteller (most exactly, the talkative one in Spanish), was written in 1987. I am speculating (since I have not researched this as to know for sure), but around that year, -or decade-, in my memory, I register that anthropology was at its peak. Even we who studied philosophy, had a semester, or a full subject, that was devoted to it. What I love, then, it’s that the book touches on this subject in the context of the story of a friendship, with unusual (to me) characters that exist in Llosa’s Peru.
One of the characters is himself, the other is his quaint friend, Mascarita, son of a Jewish dad and a Criolla mom, a friend he knows from high school, who has a purple mole or birth mark that covers half his face, eyes, nose, and mouth included, and who makes him look specially repulsive. A friend who, for that deformity and the reactions he causes in others, has an upbeat look at life, and such a kind and agreeable personality. Mascarita becomes fascinated first and obsessed in time, with the tribes in the Amazonian jungles, and our narrator… (that’s as much as I will tell, since I have not even finished it myself.)