Book Diary: Madrid Tales (Ed. Helen Constantine)

This book is part of a series collecting tales from different cities, including Paris, Rome and Berlin.  Of course, all the stories in this edition are about Madrid.

Included at the back, are a metro and a city map, with the streets and plazas mentioned in the stories marked on, so that you can psychogeographically traverse the city with the characters.  I like the idea that, whether you are planning to visit Madrid or not, you can travel through literature in this way.

None of the stories have ever been translated into English before and it was great to discover (through the useful biographies and further reading sections) lots and lots of Spanish authors – not ONE of which I’m ashamed to say I’ve EVER heard of!  I have now fleshed out my non-specific, yet still very sparsely populated list of, ‘fiction and non-fiction about Spain/Madrid and/or written by Spaniards/Madrilenos’ via this handy section.

I enjoyed all of the stories, although I didn’t get a feeling – one that I was hoping for, and that I certainly got from reading Leaving the Atocha Station – of being there, immersed in the city and the way of life.  However, from a purely literary perspective, I particularly liked the Deconstructionist tale of Souto and his cat Derri, Sign and Message by José María Merino, as well as Juan García Hortelano’s A Testing Time, Álvaro Pombo’s Luzmila, Eloy Tizón’s Flying Fish and José Ferrer-Bermejo’s Let the Passengers Out.  I found this latter story very Murakami-esque, Murakami when he is at his most nightmarish.  Another story that I really enjoyed, which coincidentally also reminded me of Murakami was, Personality Disorder by Juan José Millás.  For me, it represented the light to Murakami’s shade, in its characters and their environment, there was a kind of hopefulness that we too might discover something extraordinary in our otherwise mundane lives.

Maybe that’s the reason, too, for my trip


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