2006/09/08

In case you were wondering

Susana and I are back in Spain, where we're building a small condominium (7 units) on the sea. We arrived last Friday, after a couple of months back in Manhattan, settling accounts and packing and trying to get some of our writing done. We've spent this week getting settled into the apartment in Carboneras that we're renting for the duration of our building project, which we expect to have completed by late fall 2007.

We got our book cases set up, and the books themselves have begun arriving (in boxes in the USPS's "M-bags", the cheapest way to ship books), so we expect next Monday to get back to our much interrupted work on our next book: a history of architecture and urbanism in Latin America (to be published by W. W. Norton once we finally get it finished). If you want to see just where we are, go to Google Earth and type in "Carboneras, Almería, Spain". The aerial photography is amazingly detailed. We can even find our construction site. Just keep going up the coast from the three ports in town (the cement factory's, Endesa's, and the fishing port), past the outcropping of beach called "La Puntica", to the NE edge of town.

2 comments:

Dirk said...

I did google-earth Almería. It is detailed, as detailed as Berkeley where I live, and much more detailed than the Åland islands where I spend part of the summer. But I could not find your place. Where is it with respect to what appears to be a big resort with a swimming pool in front?
We’ve been reading Malraux’s novel about the Spanish civil war called in French L’Espoir and in English Man’s Fate. Among other things it involves the mass flight of most of the people of Malaga, which had fallen to the fascists, to Almería on foot or by cart.
We got to Man’s Fate because one of reading group is interested in Shanghai and got us to read Han Bangqing’s Singsong Girls of Shanghai, set in the pleasure districts of Shanghai in the late 19th century. After that I suggest we read Malraux’s novel called in French La Condition Humaine, and in Englsih Man’s Fate. It’s set in Shanghai a couple of decades later when the shit that supports the idle rich of the first novel has hit the fan. I had read it before, and we all found it a powerful work full of the anguish of existential decisions, the role of communism in revolution, not to mention plain physical anguish.
So people wanted to go on the Man’s Hope. Since this blog often discusses translation I should say something about the titles in English. “Man’s Fate” I not a strange translation of the French, though others are possible, but “Man’s Hope” is clearly the effort of some marketing schmuck at a New York or London publisher to sell it a s a sequel, which it isn’t, even thematically.
We haven’t liked Man’s Hope as well. It involves the same themes and has some very moving writing, but is not so successful as a novel. Malraux apparently kind of jotted it down as he participated in the war in a semi-journalistic fashion. I wish the Loyalists had shipped him a carton of speech tags : it is often hard to tell who is speaking. And, realistically, people tend to die just when you’ve gotten interested in them.
Now we are, pace William James, pretty sick of war and battle and suffering, and we are considering what to read next. One thing I’ve suggested is Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, which is set in a hospital treating WWI victims of “shell shock”. But I have seen interesting reviews of Sepharad by Antonio Muñoz Molina. It might be a way to get I touch with how things have turned out in Spain. Which leads to my question: Have you read it. Do you have any comment?

gef said...

Thanks. I read L'Espoir years ago; time to re-read. A very good short story about the last days of the Spanish civil war appeared recently in the New Yorker, the first English translation of a Spanish writer who died a couple of years ago, Alberto Méndez. My review of his posthumous collection of stories (including the one recently translated), is at Lecturas y lectores (scroll down to "Derrotados pero no doblegados").