Posted by: biblioglobal | April 9, 2016

Uruguay: Voices from Time

I’m going to try out a change of style for this blog and see if I decide to stick with it. Rather than writing up my responses to each book, I’m going to take the approach of just writing generally about my reading at any given point in time. I enjoy reading other blogs that take that approach, so I’m just going to give it a try.

I’m also a little pessimistic, because mostly when I see people write posts about reviving their blogs, the blogs die again soon after! So we’ll see!

Voices of Time: A Life in Stories

Translated from the Spanish by Mark Fried. Published in 2001.

For the book-from-every-country project, right now I’m reading Voices from Time by Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan author. It’s an unusual sort of book, in that it consists of more than 300 extremely short (less than a page) passages. As best as I can tell, it lies somewhere in the netherworld between fiction and fact. Sometimes I recognize the name of a real person (I think there are a lot more real names that I don’t recognize that someone from South America would recognize), and the story about them has some semblance to reality, but doesn’t seem to be totally accurate. Other stories have a much more fictional feel.

I haven’t decided how I feel about the structure of the book. It has definitely grown on me as I read and I like the writing, but the fragmentary nature sometimes is unfulfilling. A nice side-effect though is that the vignettes are easy to share. One reminded me of a family joke, so I quickly typed it up and e-mailed it to my family, who loved it. Periodically I read one or two aloud to BiblioBoyfriend.

I’ve also started reading Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta, which was sent to me as part of my Daunt Books subscription. It’s set in Nigeria, during the Biafran War. I’m excited about it, because I’ve seen lots of people praising it. But I’m approaching it with some trepidation, given the subject matter and also because of the amazing, intense experience of reading Half of a Yellow Sun, which has the same setting.

Unfortunately, my copy falls into the African-Book-Covers-With-Acacia-Trees stereotype:

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I recently read Catch-22, a classic that I’ve long found intimidating. But it’s one of BiblioBoyfriend’s favorites, so I pushed myself to give it a try. Wow it was good! (Though the treatment of women was hard to tolerate, even though it was probably realistic.) Also, I now understand all those references to Catch-22 that BiblioBoyfriend makes. A sample passage that really struck me:

‘They’re trying to kill me’ Yossarian told him calmly.

‘No one’s trying to kill you’ Clevinger cried.

‘Then why are they shooting at me?’ Yossarian asked.

‘They’re shooting at everyone,’ Clevinger answered. ‘They’re trying to kill everyone.’

‘And what difference does that make?’

Waiting on my shelf are the two sequels to Miss Buncle’s Book. They are on loan from my sister. I feel guilty about that because I gave them to her as a Christmas present! But they are Persephone books which aren’t so easy to get in the U.S., so I accepted the loan despite my guilt. I understand that they aren’t as good as the first one, but they should still be some fun reading.

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Responses

  1. “I’m also a little pessimistic, because mostly when I see people write posts about reviving their blogs, the blogs die again soon after!” – LOL! I had to laugh at this because I have noticed it too AND been guilty of it.

    I want to read Under the Udala Trees but I wish the cover was anything but trees for the same reason you mention. I almost don’t want to read it.

    • You can’t be too guilty of it because your blog is still going strong!

      The cover I have is the British one. I think the American one is better.

  2. Ack, I’ve been meaning to read Eduardo Galeano for years but haven’t managed it yet and you had to go an remind me 😉 Unfortunate about the cover of Under the Udala Trees, hopefully it is good. As for Catch-22 that one is also on my perpetual TBR list. Why does my list never get smaller?

    • Well, you could just stop reading book blogs and book reviews. Wait, no, don’t do that!

      Eduardo Galeano is good, so keep him on your list! I’m surprised I don’t see more bloggers writing about him. The short pieces in Voices from Time are nice for dipping into and reading a couple before sleeping.

  3. It’s been a long time since I read Catch-22. I should revisit it. Good luck with the new format!

  4. BiblioBoyfriend says he needs to reread it also. Certainly one worth a reread.


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