By: Dolores Redondo
Book translation by: Michael Meigs
Here we go:
- The cover pictured here is not the same as the cover of the English translated version I have. I prefer this one. Covers matter! There is no window or man in profile on mine and I find this one much more intriguing. Who doesn’t like a little window imagery to set the stage?
- Opens quite well and sets an atmosphere of urgency.
- I don’t always like reading about characters that are writers because, well, we’re not usually all that interesting as leads. But I’m staying.
- Translating must be a tedious job. How do you take a writer’s words in one language and turn them into a different language without losing meaning? Or capture a colloquialism? There are a few clunky spots in the first pages, which could be translation issues or just word choice (“But no; he sensed the silent presence out there of the intruder’s demanding energy.” and “…he got up and muttered a curse at the guard at the front gate.” – just a couple of examples.)
- On page 5 of my edition, we’re told that the body has been identified by a relative, which strikes me as odd. Is this normal timing? Why would Manuel not be ID’ing the body? He’s the husband. I guess the duty doesn’t have to fall on the spouse.
- Manuel! Manuel! I already love you. I see your grief and it feels real. *sad face*
- ALSO: this is a gay couple. I cannot love this more. Thank you for representation that is not erotica or the stereo-typically FABULOUS and glitter-washed comic-relief side-kick, at least that I’ve seen yet. Real people, people.
- Page 6: “From this angle he noticed something he’d never particularly paid attention to before: the narrow hall opened to the living room in just the way a long-stemmed flower reached for the light.” OKAY. This is so real, y’all. Here he is just learning his love his been killed. There are two strangers sitting in his house. And what does his mind do? It tries to distract him, save him, help him to catch his breath by saying, “Here, notice this thing. Isn’t it beautiful?” Be that flower, Manuel! Reach for the light.
- He goes on seeing his house differently. The familiar spaces becoming something he doesn’t recognize because isn’t that loss? Life will never be the same. The space is described as having “turned into an ocean of frozen sun, an infernal arctic night that made him feel like an orphan again…” I’ve run this image through my head several times and just don’t get it. How can a sun be frozen? Help. Me.
- The next chapter (p.9) is titled The Arctic Sun. ???? So, this points back to my previous point and also, why are there chapter titles? The point of view has not changed. So, I guess it’s just a matter of opinion. Just numbering the chapters would have been fine for me.
- Back on page 7, Manuel senses Mei is lying to him and Redondo writes, “He even had one of those flashes of clairvoyance that reveal the stage machinery that moves the world. The mechanism that mercifully remains hidden from us for most of our lives.” In the next chapter, page 9, she writes, “This early September weather seemed almost artificial, a literary trope orchestrated to create an atmosphere of oppression and despair.” Great example of the connective tissues of a story. He’s already feeling as if he has not control, that everything is being manipulated behind the scenes of his life; everything is already designed. He’s a writer and sees the scene in his head almost like a literary device, a scene created in a story. His story.
- Page 10: “He studied each item, almost surprised they still existed now that Alvaro was gone.” HEART. BREAK.