Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I'm Reading Now-The Angel's Game

The Angel's GameThe Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, translated by Lucia Graves-I never know whether to give credit to an author or translator when I feel that a book is beautifully written--was it as lovely in its original language as it is in English or did the translator add her own flair to make it sound better?  Either way, I thought it was beautiful--very atmospheric and disappearable (meaning it was easy for me to disappear completely into the story).  I suppose "engrossing" or "consuming" would work, but what better reason to make up words than to describe a story?  What words do you use to describe stories like this?

Well, David Martín had lots of words--he is a writer in 1920's Barcelona, wasting his talent writing serial novels for a less-than-reputable publishing house when a mysterious man comes to him with an offer--a hundred thousand francs for one year's work.  The commission is something I won't give away, but the money's good and David accepts.  I was fascinated by the job he was offered and was looking forward to how the project would take shape, but that's not really where this book goes; and while I'd still like to see that story played out, I'm not at all disappointed with where it went instead.  I liked David and was rooting for him, but at one point we get a hint that David might not be an entirely reliable narrator and that there might be a much darker side than what we've been seeing.  Throughout the book, things spiral downward into darker and darker revelations, and to the end we are left wondering what is really going on, but in a good, ooooh-was-he-or-wasn't-he? kind of way, not in a WTF?? kind of way.          

Although it's been on my TBR list for a while now, I haven't read Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind, but I know that some of the characters carry over into The Angel's Game, and The Cemetary of Forgotton Books makes a reappearance.  All in all, I'm quite happy that I discovered this book on my library's "New Arrivals" shelf!

**Random Extra Bits***

The Cemetary of Forgotton Books is "a colossal labyrinth of bridges, passages, and shelves full of hundreds of thousands of books, forming a gigantic library of seemingly impossible perspectives."  The rules:  "Article one:  The first time somebody comes here he has the right to choose a book, whichever one he likes, from all the books there are in this place.  Article two:  upon adopting a book you undertake to protect it and do all you can to ensure it is never lost.  For life."  That in itself is cool, but what I thought was even cooler was that on the same day that I was reading about this place of forgotton books, I stumbled across a Care's Weekly Geeks post (prompted by this Weekly Geeks...prompt) that talks about forgotton words and how you can adopt one of your own...just like a forgotton book!  I haven't committed to anything yet, but I kind of like snollygoster.


Anonymous said...

Give credit to the author, for the style and language is his and translators don't "rewrite" or add anything, but make sure you get as close as possible to the original. I anything, a translation is always inferior to the original. I've read the angel's game in spanish and in english. It is , as all zafon's books, one of the best written books I've ever read, in any language.

Dreamybee said...

That's kind of what I figured, but it's nice to hear from someone who has read both. Thank you!

Jeanne said...

I read The Shadow of the Wind a few years ago (and blogged about it) and I remember saying that it was an interesting story but I didn't find the writing compelling. I'd like to know more about the world of the characters, but wonder if this one would be as slow for me as that one was.

Dreamybee said...

Hmmmm...not sure if I can offer a lot of insight on that one. I tried to find your post to see what you liked/didn't like about TSotW to see how it might relate to this book, but I can't find your post.

As far as the world of the characters, I felt like I could perfectly envision the gritty, dark, dank world that David inhabited, and I got a pretty good feel for all of the individual characters; but as far as Barcelona in the 1920's, specifically, I didn't get much of a feel for that--I felt like it could have been any dank, dark, gritty seaside city. The 1929 International Exhibition does make a bit of an appearance in the story (like a tiny cameo role), and I would have liked to have heard more about that--there had to be some fascinating stuff going on in concert with that.

Care said...

Snollygoster does have a nice sound to it. I enjoyed Shadow of the Wind and just haven't gotten to this one yet but I want to. You have me even more curious.

Jeanne said...

Odd; I can't find a review of this book on my own blog now, either. Perhaps I read it pre-blogging, because I was remembering a post about the woman who gave it to me, and I mentioned her in a post about Olive Kitteridge, instead of this one.

Anyway, yes, I felt like there was a lot of description of the setting to very little specific effect. It was kind of like watching a movie that's filmed mostly in the dark. I just watched a dance sequence in the movie version of Hair--not a very good movie--but I'm remembering that dance because it was filmed in the dark...why?!!

Dreamybee said...

Care-I love snollygoster! In fact, I have decided to adopt it. In fact, I will use it right now: I do not think that any of my readers are snollygosters, and that makes me happy!

Jeanne-I hate it when I do that--"Wait, what do you mean I didn't blog about that?...Dang." I was watching an episode of "Justified" the other day that had a fight scene in the dark, and it reminded me of your comment. :)