30 October 2014

Book Review: The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

One man is on his death bed. And as he lay dying, he recalls all the events that were pivotal in his life, from his rise as a poor person to a powerful magnate, as well as the various crucial things that happened which lead him to where he was at this point. This is the entire premise of the book, and that results in a very interesting narrative structure, so to speak.

See, this book is filled with flashbacks. In fact, all of the book is pretty much a series of flashbacks, since the main timeline (the present) is just Artemio Cruz dying, on his death bed. As he lay dying, his mind transports him to events that happened in the past, and therefore there are several discontinuities in the narrative time line, jumping back and forth between the non-eventful present and the event-filled past.

I also like the fact that the narrative styles differ depending on the time line. There are passages that are written in the second person, while there are passages that deviate from that, and every deviation pretty much indicates a shift in the temporal structure of the novel.

28 October 2014

Cavorting with the Companion: Central London

I have to admit, London was not my most favorite city. We did some sight-seeing, interspersed with meeting up with friends and family. This will be my last post about this town, and who knows, I don't know when I will be back again. Perhaps, after the numerous encounters with Orwellian CCTVs, I might not visit again for a while.

26 October 2014

The Two-Year Culture Shock

I was in the United States recently, after not being there for two years. It was funny, in fact, because the first place in the United States that I visited was Buffalo, where I spent 7 years while I was in graduate school. I spent just 5 days, yet somehow, it was a memorable experience, partly because I felt like I experienced culture shock.

24 October 2014

Cavorting with the Companion: Notting Hill

After visiting several museums, my partner and I decided that it is time to walk around and explore neighborhoods of London. So, I opted to head to Notting Hill. Somehow, I remember watching the movie several times back in the days, since my mother owned a VHS copy of this movie. So I was familiar with the locations more or less.

22 October 2014

Book Review: The Stone Raft by José Saramago

It's been a while since I have read a José Saramago book. So for this time, I picked up The Stone Raft, another one of his fables where some extra-ordinary premise happens, and the ordinary citizens affected by this extra-ordinary premise needs to deal with their changed surroundings. I loved these novels: in The Double, Saramago tells the story of a man who realizes that there is another man out there that looks exactly the way he does; in Blindness, he narrates a story of an unnamed country where everyone (with the exception of one woman) becomes blind; and in Death with Interruptions, he tells the story of an unnamed country where people just stopped dying. Here, in The Stone Raft, he narrates a story when the Iberian Peninsula suddenly breaks away from the rest of Europe and floats toward the Azores.

And yes, I am again impressed by Saramago's story-telling skills, and how he can tell a story both at the macro- and the micro-level, showing the effects of this magically realistic occurrence both on a country, and on its individual citizens.