Reading this, I couldn't help but wonder where books like this where when I was doing all my literature courses...(damn dead WASPs... there is something to be said about World literature) for a book in translation, the prose was beautiful. This is a grand book, from beginning to end. It took me weeks to finish this - it really isn't a book that you pick up and read in one or two sittings. At times this is a coming of age novel, sometimes a mystery, at times a historical piece, sometimes it borders on a Greek tragedy, and at times, it is whimsical and fanciful in the language employed.
I quoted the opening passage a few posts back, and there is a thread about books and their stories that permeates this entire book. Have I mentioned how much I enjoyed this book? And not in the usual sense either... about 2/3rs of the way through I kind of did a bit of a groaner for the direction one of the characters ended up taking, but within the context of the book, it does create the Greek tragedy element to the tale, and makes it somewhat more poignant, even if this element was a bit distasteful (I won't give it away just in case you are so inspired to pick up this book).
How to describe in a nutshell what this is about - against the backdrop of WW II and the Spanish Revolution, this is the story about a young boy named Daniel, his widowed father, and their used bookstore. This is also the story of an obscure writer, whose life is ironically entwined with Daniel's and comes to a dramatic head by the climax of the novel. It is partly a coming of age novel, first loves, loss, war, living in an oppressed society, filial love, books, identity, stereotypes and archetypes. Did I mention this book had a bit of everything in it? I don't think I am doing the best job at relating what this book is about, but it is well worth a read. I had the urge to get out a highlighter and mark passages for future reference, and I did stick some bits of toilet paper in too.. but those bits are gone and I am not feeling up to searching through the book to find some worthy quotes to immortalize here.
Once again, I have to say I am glad that my reading habits have taken such a departure from what I was reading - I haven't been bored, and I have a bunch of books cued up that I am really looking forward to reading.