diumenge, 14 de març de 2010

Über einem Nebelmeer

Ja estic pre-inscrita al master, després de mil-i-un problems tècnics i informàtics i una setmana de pànic en què pensava que el meu futur se n'anava (més) a la deriva. Així que l'any que ve seré a Barcelona, ves quina cosa! Europa haurà d'esperar una mica més.

El cap de setmana de treball amb el Cor Jove ha estat productiu, n'estic contenta. Tot i així, no ha ajudat gens a pal·liar el meu insomni; tot al contrari, no havia dormit tan malament en tota la setmana.

I ara us explicaré una història: vet-ho aquí que una vegada una llavor petita, minúscula, ridícula, va arribar, conduïda per vés a saber quina força estranya, a un camp gairebé estèril que no prometia res de bo, només una pèrdua de temps i d'esforços. Amb el pas del temps, la llavor va anar quedant soterrada, i no sabria dir a ciència certa per què, però la llavor va germinar i en va sortir un brot verd, petit, minúscul, ridícul, que tan podia convertir-se en una planta gran i forta com en l'aliment del bestiar.

I vet aquí un gat, vet aquí un gos, que aquest conte ja s'ha fos.

Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (Caspar David Friedrich -1818-). Em fa pensar en tu. O potser és que t'has instal·lat sense permís al meu cap de pardals?

dijous, 11 de març de 2010

The world is going crazy (a somewhat frivolous entry)

Maybe Catalan or Spanish would have been more appropiate languages for this entry, but I felt like writing in English... And it's a challenge for me to "translate" some cultural references into a language that is not familiar with them. You can't say that I write only in "minoritary languages"!

They called it "climate change". I say the world has gone completely nuts in the past months.

It snowed in Barcelona on Monday. The city normally collapses when it rains (which happens rarely, but this year it seems like I've brought the rain in from Saarbrücken): traffic lights stop working, public transport is affected, in some places electricity goes off... The typical. Only that this time it was Catalonia-wide (well, let's remark the fact that there are two Catalonias: Barcelona City and the rest of the territory), and we, as a Mediterranean country, are not ready for snow (pregui'n nota, senyor Hereu!), nor are our dearly beloved politicians. Therefore, today, Thursday, some towns up north still didn't have electricity and some roads were still cut because we don't have enough plows.

Then we have bullfighting declared as "national herritage". Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Tradition over the life of a beast who has nothing to do with it. And I'm not a vegetarian, so I won't argue that we shouldn't kill the animal in order to eat its meat afterwards. I'm saying I don't want that "my" culture (let's discuss that "my" later) is associated with the torture and murder of an animal. That applies to bullfighting in Spain or any other type of animal torture all over the globe.

Getting over the border of the imperial peninsula, apparently the axis of the Earth has been moved some centimeters after the earthquakes in Chile. Maybe that's why it's so cold these days. Now seriously: what's happening with earthquakes in South America lately is terrible, first Haiti and now Chile. What if the Mayans had been right and the world is seriously to end in 2012?

If that were really the case, we needn't worry. We still have them:

Aquí hi ha marro!!!

It's probably true: the end is coming.

dilluns, 8 de març de 2010

What I've read in English recently

The latest books I've read were not exactly my cup of tea. I'm starting to consider whether I'm losing my ability to understand the English language or if it's just a lack of concentration due to the fact that I've been reading almost exclusively on the train to the university and back. Or that the books aren't what the exctacts from the New York Times reviews promised they would be.

As a side note: I continue to love how they use rhetorical expressions, such as "hypnotic, dreamy prose" (about Twilight), "a classic for the new millennium" (about The Fire) or "Readers will be enthralled" (about The Piano Teacher). Without further ado, here are the reviews.

The Piano Teacher. Janice Y.K. Lee.

The story is about... In the 1950's, Claire Pendleton goes to live to Hong Kong because of her husband's new job in the still-British colony. There she learns to live among the rich and the famous, both British families who went there long before the war, and very rich and influent Chinese families who earned the favour of the conquerors.

Claire starts working as a piano teacher for Locket Chen, only daughter of Victor and Melody Chen, probably the most influent Chinese family in Hong Kong. While she is working, Claire meets Will, a British man who works as the Chens' chauffeur, and they end up having an affair.

However, Will has a secret of his own, and the reader is transported, through flashbacks, to the time of World War II, and gets to see the tempestuous relationship between Will and Trudy Liang, a half-Chinese, half-Portuguese exotic and fascinating woman.

Opinion... Maybe it's my fault for not having read Ian McEwan's Atonement (or anything by him except for an extract of the first pages of his novel Saturday), because according to The Piano Teacher's cover, Elle magazine claims it to be a book of the same category.

Leaving possible comparisons aside, I didn't like the book. Not because the story is not interesting, but it doesn't quite fulfill my expectations. It's also probably my fault for expecting something much more passionate or, at least, a bit more thriller-like, considering that the story is settled in the period of World War II.

As a general overview, the author fails to resolve all of the action at the end of the book. We are given almost 300 pages of information about the situation during WWII, about Claire, about Trudy, about the other aristocrats around them... The reader keeps turning the pages expecting to find out the connection between Trudy and Claire, and many other apparently relevant details we are presented with along the chapters, only to reach an ending that I, personally, didn't quite understand. I mean, I did understand the ending, what happens to everybody, but not what exactly did Claire have to do with all of the rest of the story.

The Fire. Katherine Neville.

The story is about... It's 1993. Cat Velis and Alexander Solarin, the main characters of the prequel to this book, The Eight, have a daughter, Alexandra (or Xie, for short), a precocious chess master. Now she and her father have travelled to Solarin's fatherland, Russia, so that the kid can take part in a chess competition. But before the last game, Solarin is shot dead because he has seen something that he thought long well hidden: the Black Queen of the Montglane Service.

Ten years later, Xie hasn't talked to her mother for years, so she can't hide her surprise when Cat, who never celebrates birthdays, invites her for a birthday party at her ancestral house in Colorado. The surprise is even bigger when she finds out that Cat is missing. And who are all of these people with no apparent connection to her mother?

Parallel to this story, the reader is presented with new both fictional and historical characters, such as Lord Byron, and a series of people whom we had already met in The Eight and now, thirty years after the original book, in the 1820s, the quest for the Montglane Service has begun again.

Opinion... I loved The Eight, a novel about the quest for a mysterious and dangerous set of chess pieces that is supposed to grant great power to their beholder.

It is no big secret that second parts are generally not as good as the original. I don't think The Fire is a bad thriller/mystery/adventure novel: you keep on reading, because nothing makes sense but you know that, in the very end, there is a reason for everything, and every little detail counts.

There is something about the ending that I don't quite like. It was a bit too sudden, and somehow repetitive. The author leaves the door open, just in case a new adventure should take place some 30 years later (apparently, the Montglane Service causes disaster every 30 years, if we take into consideration the dates of all the events described).

Both in The Eight and The Fire, the author mixes real historical characters with fictional characters, which make the story somehow believable. However, maybe my problem with The Fire is that I wasn't as familiar with the historical period of the 1820s as much as I was with the French Revolution, so I didn't enjoy the historical events as much (nor did my curiosity arise as much as with The Eight).

It's a to-read-in-the-train novel. Don't expect a great piece of literature, although it's well written and it's a very enjoyable story, especially if you're into DaVinci Code and such.

My conclusion: beware and fear the "Best-selling book" tag!

dijous, 4 de març de 2010


Las buenas críticas que recibió en varios blogs me llamó la atención y finalmente, después de buscar por media Barcelona sin éxito, lo encontré en mi librería favorita, que era el último sitio donde se me hubiera ocurrido buscar (de hecho, fue pura casualidad). Y dije, pues ya que estoy, voy a comprarlo.

No sé muy bien cómo resumir la historia sin incluir spoilers... Digamos que por una serie de coincidencias, Liselotte (una chica humana), Trece (un hombre lobo) y Neve (una vampiresa) se embarcan en un viaje hacia el palacio del barón Engelbert, que ha perdido la inspiración para seguir escribiendo el libro del destino, y su estado de ánimo influye negativamente en el país de Once Upon a Time.

A nivel artístico, con O.U.T Inma R. nos deleita con un estilo con una marcada influencia de las obras más recientes de las CLAMP, que resulta muy agradable a la vista y es uno de los puntos fuertes de esta autora.

Sin embargo, a nivel narrativo me ha sabido a poco. Me explicaré: la historia tiene muchos puntos interesantes y los personajes dan mucho de sí. Sin embargo, llegas al final del manga y te quedas con la cara de tonto, no puedes creer que ya hayas llegado al final. O.U.T, como historia, sabe a poco, porque la acción se desarrolla tan rápido que casi no te da tiempo de familiarizarte con los personajes ni su situación, y por eso el final llega de forma muy precipitada.

Esto no lo convierte en un mal manga, por supuesto, pero te quedas un poco con ganas de más: más desarrollo de personajes, más historia, un poco más de profundidad... Igual es que tenía muchas expectativas puestas en este tomo único publicado por Norma y que se anunció a bombo y platillo durante el Saló del Manga de Barcelona del 2009 (seguramente fue esto lo que me generó las altas expectativas).

dilluns, 1 de març de 2010

Teardrops keep falling

És sorprenent veure com les retenc algunes nits, quan més necessito que surtin,

i com d'altres són elles que ragen sense parar, com una font que té una fuita d'aigua.

I no entenc per què.

Espero que només siguin les hormones.

El vaig fer a Saarbrücken en un moment de debilitat (com el d'ara) el segon mes de ser allà. Qualsevol semblança amb la realitat no deixa de ser una malaurada coincidència, perquè en un principi no pretenia ser-ho. Però em va sortir així.

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