The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, sucked me in and chewed me up and spat me out in a haze of general disenchantment with any other book ever published.
It’s really good.
It was written in Spanish and translated by Lucia Graves. Like Arturo Perez-Reverte, another Spanish author I enjoy reading, Zafon spatters his tale with references to other literature.
It’s the story of a boy who falls in love with a book, and spends his growing-t0-manhood-time in a hunt for the seemingly disappeared author. It takes place all over Barcelona, and the story begins immediately after WWII, when the regime of Franco was in power. We are taken on a gothic joy-ride in the hunt for this missing author, through hidden passageways, crumbling mansions, insane asylums, through the cold and rain and fog, and in pursuit of doomed women, running our fingers along the spines of dusty leather-bound books.
I read this with Wikipedia and Google Earth cued up, and learned a lot about Barcelona. In Google Earth, Barcelona is represented in extremely high resolution, so you can see cars and fuzzy spots of what must be people in the street. If you turn on “pictures”, you will find almost every square inch of Barcelona photoed. In a copy more recently printed than the one I read, there is an appendix which is a walking tour of Barcelona that takes the walker to various points of interest from the book. But, here’s a few links to some of the things I found.
Antonio Machin was a singer popular in Cuba. Fermin loves Machin and blares the radio in the bookshop. Amazon samples because WP is lame and I can’t figure out how to upload the song I bought just for this purpose.
What is an “incunabula“?
Daniel is forever riding up and down Avenue Tibidabo on the funincular.
and I thought I had more notes, but I think I already mailed my copy to nrlymrtl.
Highly recommended, even though the only fantastical element is The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which surely is a tribute to Borges.