"B" book finished, "C" in progress

Posted: January 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book never did improve for me. Quite the opposite. I lost all patience with it, skimming through to the end, thoroughly sick and tired of the whole thing.

And the ending? A child could have seen it coming a mile away. Quite honestly, I found it awful. The only redeeming virtue remained the details about book conservatorship. Once those ran out, so did my interest.

I know, most people absolutely loved the book. Perhaps they were just able to overlook the glaring inadequacies of it, looking past those to find enjoyment. But alas, not I.

Rating: two pairs of sensible shoes out of a possible five, and that only because a few passages were less irritating than others.


Good news is my “C” book is absolutely stellar so far. It’s translated from the Spanish, and I’m pleased with myself for managing to work in some world literature. But then again, I’ve recently started a world literature, indie press and literary fiction-promoting blog, so I’m just a little prejudiced toward this interest of mine.

Wonderful World: A Novel by Javier Calvo

Calvo’s very heavily influenced by Dickens, though with a thoroughly modern twist. In addition to the odd characters, the convention of unlikely plot twists is done beautifully. But the real test will be the ending, and how well the author is able to weave together the seemingly unrelated plot threads – another particular skill of Dickens.

Also like the great Victorian writer, there are so many characters it’s tough recalling who’s who. But even this Calvo handles well, using situational references to help us keep up with his brilliant, fast-paced mind.

Here’s a review:

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Calvo’s first novel to appear in English is a frenetic and magnificent mashup of family drama, mob revenge story and surreal mystery featuring a gigantic enforcer obsessed with comic books, a 12-year-old girl fixated on Stephen King, a namby-pamby antiques dealer on a mad quest and a crime lord with a penchant for women’s coats. Thirty years ago, Barcelona antiques dealer Lorenzo Girault was imprisoned for shady dealings. Now, his son, Lucas, insinuates himself into the seedy underworld to discover who was responsible for his father’s ruin. While conspiring with Mr. Bocanegra, the crooked proprietor of a strip club, and Iris Gonzalvo, a failed actress, Lucas simultaneously combats his mother’s efforts to usurp his share in the family business and watches after his disturbed young neighbor and only friend, Valentina Parini. Lucas’s adventure is overlaid with a portentous filial dream and portions of a fictitious Stephen King novel that may hold clues to his father’s fate, creating a rich and complex structure. The expansive cast can sometimes be difficult to sort out, but its quirks allow Calvo to set up a fast-moving narrative overflowing with hilarious situations. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Here’s to hoping “C” turns out better than “B”… So far, so good.

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