Judging the public's taste

A friend tells me that Javier Cercas' book, Soldados de Salamina, which I read last year, is now a movie, but he's heard that the movie is not a good adaptation of the book. It was sold as a novel, but is really a long, journalistic investigation of an incident at the end of the Spanish Civil War, when retreating Republican troops were ordered to shoot their remaining prisoners but one of them, Falange party founder Rafael Sánchez Maza, escaped. (If you read Spanish, here's my review of the book from last year.)

If the movie is any good, I told him, it couldn't possibly be a faithful adaptation of the book, which is mostly about Cercas' problems figuring out what he was writing about. Now that he has achieved fame and, I trust, fortune, I hope he takes his little pitonisa (Spanish slang for fortune-teller, in this case one with her own TV show) out to a really good restaurant and home for a really good fuck. She deserves it. She was the one who told him that if he kept trying to write about a self-occupied, ungrateful, deceitful failed Falangist, nobody in Spain would ever read his book. So that's when he started on his pursuit of the old soldier.

The old soldier is a wonderful character, but he appears only in the last pages and he's mainly an invention of Cercas' imagination -- that is, the old soldier was real, but his adventures are Cercas' fantasies spun around some very terse statements. My favorite character, though, is the pitonisa. She's an airhead, but she gives good head and, even though she doesn't read, has lots better literary judgment than Cercas.

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