Saturday, May 19, 2012

Author Stalking

The most simple description of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, would be that it is a story about a boy who finds a book that he loves, and when he can't find any more books by the same author, he tries to find out why the author's works are unavailable.  The boy is Daniel, and the author is Julian Carax.  The story takes place in Spain, during and after its revolution.  It has hints of a ghost story, a Spanish language soap opera, and a mystery, but what I really think Shadow is, is a story about boys who attended high school together, and the grudges and friendships that they held on to from high school until death.  Much of the story takes place in the crumbling estate of a formerly wealthy family, but other interesting settings include a maze like cemetery of forgotten books and a hospice where one just might find a prostitute.

This was a fantastic story, with interesting characters.  Daniel's friend, Fermin, is funny, tragic, likable, obscene and true, all at once, and he quickly became one of my favorite characters that I have read or heard in a long time.  I listened to the book in audio form, and benefited from the reader's pronunciation of the names (Julian is "Hoo-li-on", and Bea is "Bay-ah", for instance), but for some reason, hokey music played whenever something important was happening, which contributed to the soap opera feel.

My friend, Ann, recommended this book to me, but she said that she thought that it was about 100 pages too long.  Knowing that, I kept waiting for the boring part to come.  It never did.  I also kept thinking that I knew what was going to happen next, only to be surprised by what occurred.  There were some obvious twists that I didn't see coming, which is a credit to the author.

One thing that I didn't like about the author's style, is that he incorporates an 80 page letter from one of the characters into the story, in order to tell the story more fully than Daniel may have otherwise been able to discover.  I complained about Jonathan Franzen employing this technique in Freedom as well.  In both Shadow  and Freedom there was an awkwardness to the new point of view that just didn't work.  Throughout Shadow, Daniel's father is a bit of a shadow himself, in that the action takes place around him, but he is left in the dark as to what is happening.  I would have preferred if the 80 page letter had instead been a 1 page letter saying "Talk to your father - he knows more than you think" so that what was told in the letter could have been detailed in a conversation between Daniel and his father.  This would have both strengthened the relationship between Daniel and his father, and given the father a lacking dimension.  My guess is that Carlos Ruiz Zafon tried something like that, but found that the back story could be explained more fully through the letter.

Shadow is action packed, and charming.  According to Wikipedia, it is one of the  best selling novels of all time.  Anyone who has ever loved a book and felt connected to the author will understand Daniel's determination, and will root for his success.

One more down for the Support your Library Challenge!

Next up on CD: The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer

Still Reading:  A Moment in the Sun  by John Sayles.  I'm 67% complete . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...