Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A Good Read.

A few days ago I read a book recommendation on Robert's (The Solitary Walker) blog for 'Roads to Santiago' by Cees Nooteboom.  It sounded a good read and at present I am short of reading material, so I sent for it.

I feel guilty every time I do this.   I do agree with those of you who support independent bookshops and I know they have a lean time of it.   But out here in the country with no means of getting into a town with a bookshop (ten miles away) without getting someone to take me now that I cannot drive again, it is so easy to click on Amazon.   If you have an account, as I have, all I have to do is bring up the book and click on that and the deed is done.

I ordered it over the weekend and it came this morning.   Popped through the letter box at 9am and I read the first chapter over my morning coffee. 

And what a book it is.   He has been compared with Patrick Leigh Fermor, Norman Lewis, Jan Morris - he is one of those writers who evokes the soul of a nation in a few words.

Every sentence has a gem in it - they come so thick and fast that it is impossible to remember them all and I suspect it will only be after reading the whole book a few times that they will be committed to memory.   Here are a few examples:-

After leaving the monastery at Venuela he says, "the door of the monastery swings shut behind me. The hollow sound reverberates through an age-old silence and I am out in the world of choices and decisions again"

 He also speaks of the bowl and how, on viewing bowls in a museum which go back for thousands of years, he realises that although we can now put a man on the moon and return him to earth, the early design of the bowl was so perfect that it has never been altered.

He views the tomb of the Lord of Aragon guarded by two griffin-like creatures - their beaks open in soundless fury.  He says 'you see the noise but you don't hear it, but by seeing it you can hear it.'

He says that making time melt is a peculiar Spanish occupation and it certainly gives a whole new meaning to those incredible Dali watches draped over various things.

I am smitten.   Although I am only just starting chapter two, I have an urge to go back to the beginning of chapter one and read it again.  It is not often I get a book to read which has this effect on me. 


The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, wow, Pat, I'm SO pleased you are enjoying this book! I absolutely love it; it's just the kind of book I like — a mixture of travelogue, history, autobiography, art appreciation, poetry, acute observation — you name it. Although he's got a lot of historical and scholarly knowledge, Nooteboom is a creative writer and a dilettante at heart, I think. He's quite wonderful, and I agree that every page reveals some original thought and memorable description. He really is up there with Jan Morris and Leigh Fermor, isn't he?

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

It does sound like a fabulous book - I'll have to look into it. I too shop at Amazon - a LOT - and though some say to support local I find that we really are supporting local even when we buy on the internet. My son works for Amazon Kindle in West Virginia and if there were no book orders online then his job would be in jeopardy at some point - and that brings all shopping down to the local level - someone is depending on a job from all sorts of sales and they spend their money locally in housing, food etc. We are one big giant "local" community now with the internet.

Even if I could shop at a local book store I become quite dizzy while looking at the titles - all placed in such a way as to make me tip my head and I then don't feel well the rest of the day. Shopping experiences for us all - each of us different.

Happy reading!!!

Heather said...

The book sounds fascinating and the author's way with words is very appealing. I love the reference to the design of bowls never having been bettered. I like that thought.

George said...

This is indeed a fine book, Pat. I purchased it a couple of years ago when planning a Camino walk, which I have yet to take. I've started the book, really enjoyed it, but have yet to finish it. I have a bad habit of being distracted from one good book by another.

Grizz………… said...

I purchased and read this book maybe a couple of years after its publication—and was simply swept away. I knew nothing first-hand of the region—history, people, food, weather, etc. And I am unlikely at this stage to ever be lucky enough to visit. But Nooteboom's writing opened up that corner of the world in the next best way. I don't know of a "travel" book I've enjoyed more, though to classify it as such seems to reduce it to a genre level, which always risks giving the impression of the book in question being a work of somewhat lesser literary standards…which is by no means the case. I envy your pleasure at getting to read each chapter for the very first time. Enjoy your journey!

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Eryl said...

Ooh, it sounds great. I'm going to Spain in April (Dave's big brother lives there) and I know bugger all about it, so next time I'm in town I'll look for this book. If I can't find it in a shop I, too, will order it from Amazon.

Dartford Warbler said...

This sounds a wonderful book.

I know what you mean about "Amazon Guilt". I recently had to order a William Trevor novel that was unavailable at my local bookshop. It arrived the next day.........

The Weaver of Grass said...

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