viernes, 24 de abril de 2015

Aquarium

Caitlin seems to be a lonely girl. As lonesome as the aquarium she visits every day after school. This place is described as a beautiful and poetical universe where many species live submerged in a perdurable tranquility.

Seattle Aquarium has become some sort of shelter for twelve-year-old Caitlin, whose own existence is constantly compared to that huge tank's reality. There she will meet her soul mate: an old man who has a similar vision of life on the other side of the glass.

Things are quite different at home though. Caitlin's mother is a blue-collar worker who does not have time to stop and stare at fish. They live in a suburb where overcoming frustration is very difficult. Fortunately she has a nice new boyfriend.

And her daughter counts on a lovely friend too, the colorful Hindu Shalini. They both have a good time together. And we enjoy those moments, full of spontaneity and innocence.

Everything will change as the old man of the aquarium ends up being a crucial person for Caitlin and her mom. Despite this unexpected and brutal turnaround, the reader will still be inmersed in the lasting tenderness that David Vann has spilt from the very beginning of the story.

I would want to emphasize the importance of an attractive edition, and this book's hardback copy has got an impeccable one. It's also been illustrated with the images of the fish that Caitlin admires most.

The novel will hook you from the start and surprise you with some tough events. Nevertheless, it also gives birth to hope.

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

The Last Bookaneer

The lack of copyright protection for books in both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gave birth to the bookaneers. But who were these men? 

Clover, a 19 year-old railway waiter, meets Mr Fergins, a fifty-odd years old bookseller who pushes a book cart in order to make a living. One day Fergins takes Clover into a courthouse, where a prisoner is about to be tried. This man is being called scoundrel, traitor and pirate by a multitude of angry people. That’s the first approach we’ll have to the bookaneers. 

"No, you will not find “bookaneer” in any dictionary". Mr Fergins narrates his own beginnings among these peculiar thieves. A cardinal man, Whiskey Bill, teaches him the ins and outs of publishing and maneuvering for a book to come to light. Fergins will soon be assistant to another bookaneer, Davenport, and enter a dark world full of rivalries. He also learns about publishing trade, bookselling business, writers’ way of life, and the most important thing: how to make profit from an unprotected book. 

The core of the novel comes when Whiskey Bill reveals in his deathbed that Robert Louis Stevenson lives in Samoa, on the island of Upolu, and is finishing the most important book of his life. Fergins and Davenport will also know that the Englishman Belial, another old fox, has already got the upper-hand on them. By 1890 the laws of copyright will go into effect. There’s no time to waste and it is crucial to travel to the South Seas and try to bring-steal this valuable book. It is the last chance to get something big! 

The Last Bookaneer is the first Matthew Pearl’s novel I have read, and I am quite impressed. I didn’t imagine it was going to be a thriller which leads us to understand the world through books. “A man’s library opens up his character to the world”. “Books are not dead things”. 

It is striking that Fergins, will never doubt their integrity and will always favor the skulduggery from a dishonest profession. Anyway, he has always fascinated by bookaneers. Between time leaps, Fergins tells Clover the story of Robert Louis Stevenson. The writer has “gone into far lands to die, and will stay here until buried". Stevenson, nicknamed by the natives Tusitala (Teller of Tales), lives without knowing today's date, writing his novel called The shovels of Newton French. They will sniff around in the house in search of the manuscripts. 

It’s worth emphasizing an anecdote about the late Elizabeth Barnard and her posthumous work, sold in a curious piracy act. We also find in this novel deep reflections on literature and get to know many details about writers and their works. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is quite mentioned as a masterpiece, which even the selfsame Sir Walter Scott envied. Shelley was just a 21 year-old girl! 

The author "tweaks" this novel relating a love story of two bookaneers, the French lady Kitten and Davenport.