A Book, Read – #29/2015 – Zarraluki, Pedro – The History of Silence

I haven’t posted one of these in a while.  The reason for this is, I think, worthwhile.

A few weeks ago I found the website of Hispabooks, a specialist publisher which seeks to broaden the available pool of contemporary Spanish literature.  Most of my most treasured writers come from the Spanish language, so I was immediately interested.

I bought the entire available published output of the company, and have been waiting to receive them in the post.  And the have arrived!

The book I went with first happened to be the book that was on the top of the pile after I had taken them from the box.  Simple as that.  I have an intention of reading all 14 of them one after the other, with perhaps a brief respite if needed.

The History of Silence by Pedro Zarraluki is lightly put together, and served as an excellent introduction to Hispabooks as a publisher.  In it, the narrator and his partner have grand intentions to write a book on silences, but really what they do is live and socialise in Madrid, and nurse their own private concerns, worries and desires.  Circling around these two are a collection of similarly vague people who work, I suppose, and drink, yes, and lazily swap sexual partners.  The book is less about evoking the daily lives of a group of people, and more about capturing the ennui of being in your thirties, having ambitions, but really devoting your time to wine, to conversation, to friends.

The narrator carried the book.  He wants so much – to write, to be a good husband, to potentially be a father, to properly commit adultery – but he’s half-hearted about all of this because he hasn’t quite figured himself out, and doesn’t even know if he wants to.  Happily, the book isn’t overly concerned with providing neat or pat answers to any of the problems raised, and it becomes more about the narrator struggling to – well, to live, I guess.

All of the above makes it sound like a bit of a sombre book, a book of melancholy or regret, but it’s really not.  Each of the characters are energetic and involved with themselves and one another, and while they all recognise that life didn’t turn out the way they thought, the way it did turn out is still pretty good, and there’s always a celebration to be had.  The narrator in particular is an excellent and sensitive observer of himself and his friends.

An excellent start to the series.

The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.


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