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Me and Sylvia (April 4, 2002)

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Decide that you like college life. In your dorm you meet many nice people. Some are smarter than you. And some, you notice, are dumber than you. You will continue, unfortunately, to view the world in exactly these terms for the rest of your life.

Lorrie Moore


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Sunday, October 4th, 2009

More Spanish stories

I've been poking around in Cuentos Españoles this weekend -- I got another similar book yesterday, Cuentos en Español (Penguin, 1999)* and the story that really caught my attention was La indiferencia de Eva, by Soledad Puértolas. The pace and rhythm of the story are almost perfect and I'm finding it easy to identify with her characters, to place myself in her scenes. I would like recommendations for further reading of her work, if any of you have read it -- she has several novels and collections of short stories, though I am finding nothing in translation.**

* and apparently Penguin also published bilingual collections of Spanish stories in 1966 and 1972 -- I'm surprised at how much of this I am finding!

** This is wrong -- the novel Bordeaux has been translated; and at least Google Books thinks that one of her stories appears in the collection After Henry James, though I haven't been able to find any reference to this collection elsewhere.

posted evening of October 4th, 2009: 2 responses
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Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Reading and understanding

Buscaba inútilmente la forma de soportar el dolor, daba vueltas por la casa, me daba un baño muy caliente, me acostaba, me volvía a levantar, daba un paseo, me dejaba caer sobre el sofá, de nuevo fatigada...

Soledad Puértolas, "Masajes"

I'm not at all sure how to translate much of this story -- it is only the second thing I have read in Spanish without a translation available to help me flesh out what the meanings of the words and constructions were. I'm understanding it only in a pretty rough, impressionistic way, the images are quite out of focus. This makes the impact of the words as words stronger in a way, the sound of the language a larger proportion of the experience: and I'm really struck by the shift in tense here between me acostaba and me volvía a levantar -- "I was walking around the house, drawing myself a very hot bath, was putting myself to bed, I got up again, I was going for a walk, letting myself fall on the sofa, suddenly fatigued..."

Many of the constructions in this story seem strange to me and hard to make sense of -- this is contributing certainly to the fuzziness of my reading experience.

Me inquietó y acabó, sobre todo, molestándome, porque me hacía estar pendiente de la hora y del silencio de la casa y imaginar, antes de escucharse, el ruido del timbre abriéndose camino hacia mí.
It's just really hard for me to match up subjects and objects and tenses in this sentence -- I get that she's saying she was troubled by the phone call (which was mentioned in the last paragraph and is definitely the subject of Me inquietó) -- "It disturbed me and had just, most of all, been bothering me, because (?) it made me be hanging from the hour and from the silence of the room and to imagine, before hearing it, the noise of the ringer making its way towards me." (Or something like that.) El ruido del timbre abriéndose camino hacia mí is a particularly nice image, provided I am reading it correctly.

I'm sort of happy to find an author that I like but am not heavily invested in to practice this kind of language comprehension on... I am also thinking Goytisolo will fit the bill in this way.

posted evening of November 8th, 2009: 1 response
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