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March 7th, 2023
I have not liked this winter. We have only had a few snowfalls in New York with no snow accumulation. The kids haven’t been sliding down the park’s slopes or building snowmen.
Cloudy days and no fun in the street do not invite you to go out. I have dedicated February to putting my notes in order and reading. As usual, I have read articles in specialized journals contributing to my research on Cholera. I should write about them later. I also read Eugenia Roldán’s book about Rudolph Ackerman’s publishing venture in Latin America. Since I will review this book for a journal, I will not comment here.
My most significant discovery this winter is Samanta Schweblin. She is an extraordinary writer. I already knew her from a book of tales, Siete casas vacías. It is a set of stories with two common denominators: houses and older adults. The ailments of the ancient people anguish and cause discomfort in the reader; could it be because they are a premonition of what can happen to us?
Distancia de rescate (there are English versions of all these books, although I read them in Spanish) is a short novel. At first, it was hard to understand. This is part of Schweblin’s narrative strategy. Bit by bit, she is giving the necessary information to comprehend what is happening. This creates uncertainty, which, combined with the plot, makes for an extraordinary horror novel.
People who know me know how concerned I am with memory. I read Bilbao-New York-Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe, a beautiful and simple story but one that raises some important questions for me. The author tells several anecdotes about how memory plays with us. I recover one: the people of Ondarria tell the story of a great shipwreck in front of the same town. The storm sank numerous fishing boats. Thus, the people of Ondarria saw their loved ones die without being able to help them. Much later, Uribe sought to document that episode. What he found in the press was surprising: many Ondarria fishermen died in the shipwreck under a terrible storm, but it was not in front of the town but in front of Santander Bay, one hundred and fifty kilometers to the west. No one from Ondarria saw the shipwreck, but older people swore they had seen it.
I also read Victory City by Salman Rushdie. It is a beautiful novel, full of fantasy and lessons about tolerance. Inspired by ancient India’s great literature, it tells the story of a kingdom and a woman. Not Rushdie’s best work (Midnight’s Children is much better), but it is a book you must read if you want to be happy for a while.
March begins. It offers more sun than the previous months. I’ll go back to the archive and keep reading. More reading than writing is the advice that we should all heed.