sábado, 30 de noviembre de 2013

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Review)

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
Khaled Hosseini conveys life's reality in such a way that even though his characters may seem harsh, the prose is smooth, descriptive and full of emotion. It does require the reader to keep a sharp mind to follow the narrative thread.
I think it helped that different characters told their story and the timeline was maintained thanks to that. And I really iappreciated that the author did so well writing in English as a second language


jueves, 28 de noviembre de 2013

Viernes Negro en Panamá / Panama´s Black Friday

A propósito del Viernes Negro en Panamá ( tomado de "¿Recuerdas…en tus sueños?")

Corriendo contra la corriente
Hace un par de décadas vivimos en una dictadura militar, algo que no espero revivamos. Pero aunque mucha gente se adaptó arrimándose a la autoridad para sobrevivir, también hubo un gran movimiento cívico al que se le llamó Cruzada Civilista -- la contraparte de la militar -- y por armas tenían ollas y sartenes repicados por utensilios de cocina. Y todos los participantes vestían de blanco.
No perdamos tiempo porque eres lo suficientemente mayor como para que se te grabe una escena que será un déjà-vu en un futuro no lejano.
Sostuve a mi nieto lo más fuerte que pude y me aseguré de que nuestros cordones de plata se entrelazaran para mayor seguridad. Inicié el vuelo trazando un gran círculo y al completarse nos dirigimos al centro y suavemente nos deslizamos hacia la tierra. 
Estamos en Vía Porras. Mi esposa y yo estamos caminando junto a cientos de personas todas vestidas de blanco. No sé hacia dónde nos dirigimos, pero el mensaje de “radio bemba” era que caminásemos por todas las calles de la ciudad. Lo importante era que nuestro descontento se sintiera.
De repente varias chotas aparecieron, cada una con su sirena a todo volumen, y los policías se apearon y empezaron a correr hacia la muchedumbre. A su vez disparaban latas con gas lacrimógeno que se esparcía al hacer contacto con cualquier objeto ya fuese humano, animal y demás.
Tu abuelita entró en pánico y yo estoy corriendo tras de ella. Ella avanza hacia los militares y no con la corriente huyendo de ellos. Y un muchacho que corre un poco delante de ella parece que les va a tirar algo, pero lo han tumbado y lo están pateando.
Acabo de alcanzar a mi esposa, la agarré por la cintura con mi brazo y me la he llevado con sus pies en el aire salvándola de pasar por lo menos un día en la cárcel, como le ocurrió a varios amigos, tanto hombres como mujeres. Nos escondimos detrás de una pared ornamental de una fábrica de ropa, y algunas personas que ya estaban ahí me pasaron un trapo empapado en vinagre para que nos pusiéramos sobre los ojos para disminuir el ardor del gas lacrimógeno.
Ese día todavía se recuerda como el Viernes Negro, y tu abuelita siempre se sintió muy orgullosa de no huir con la corriente sino correr en contra de ella para “enfrentar el enemigo.”
***

Running Against the Flow

A couple of decades ago we lived in a military dictatorship, which is something that I hope we won’t live in again. But even though many people cope with and even kiss up to the authorities to survive at that time a huge civic movement was organized. It was called the Civilistas -- civilians as opposed to military -- and their arms were pots and pans on which they beat with kitchen utensils. And the participants all dressed in white.
We must hurry because you’re old enough imprint a scene that will be a déjà vu, and which may protect you from siding with any dictatorship in the near future.
I held my grandchild as tight as I could and made sure that our silver chords intertwined for added security. I started to glide into a very wide circle and veered towards the center and slid to the earth.
We are in Via Porras and my wife and I are walking among hundreds of people. We are all wearing white outfits. I really do not know where we are heading, but the message by mouth was to walk on all city roads. We just had to make our dissent be known.
All of a sudden several paddy wagons have appeared with their sirens as loud as ever and policemen are running towards the crowds. They are shooting canisters with tear gas, which explode all around us.
Your grandmother just panicked and I’m dashing after her. She is running towards the military and not away from them. And a fellow who is doing the same thing has the intention of throwing something at them, but he's been tackled and he’s being kicked all over.
I just caught up with my wife, grabbed her by the waist, and carried her away from a sure day in jail, which is where many of our friends ended up.
We hid behind a decorative wall of a factory and some people handed us cloths drenched in vinegar to diminish the sting of the tear gas.

That day is still remembered as Black Friday, and your grandmother felt proud of how she did not run with the flow, but against it, to meet the enemy.

miércoles, 27 de noviembre de 2013

Hot Gossip by Susanne O'Leary (Review)

Hot Gossip by Susanne O'Leary
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
The description -- almost a prologue -- was well-written and set my mind on the path of this page turner.
Though this book is a sequel to Hot Property, it stands on its own as a separate novel and the references to the Irish countryside, with its slurry scent hanging in the air, made me add Ireland to my bucket list.
Though the genre is romantic comedy, there are a few serious, deep, passages, especially relating to death adjustment, which I could relate to on a personal basis. Being practical during a divorce also made sense with "…miserable is bad enough. But being miserable in cheap clothes is worse."
I don't know why, upon finishing the book, I felt the urge to drink a glass of Laphroaig single malt from the isle of Islay… Of course, Guinness is a must.

martes, 26 de noviembre de 2013

Lost in Wilderness (Review)

Lost in Wilderness by Prathibha Nair
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
This is the type of book that cannot be written without having lived the experience transmitted to the main characters.
A book of short stories about parenting may become tiresome if the content is not varied. This is not the case. The author was able to reproduce the concerns of the working woman in a very modern society -- Arab Emirates -- albeit being immigrants in that country.
I was impressed by the straight-forwardness in all the stories, whether they be of bliss about motherhood, doubt or rejection.
This is a book I recommend to every young, working, striving couple. Responsible parenting is no easy choice.

lunes, 18 de noviembre de 2013

La Silla Vacía (Leyenda Nicaragüense)

La Silla Vacía
(Antigua leyenda nicaragüense)

Esta leyenda me la narró mi hermana Gladys hace unos días.

Un señor ya mayor veía a su amigo rezar muy devotamente.
- Yo quisiera poder rezar, pero no sé qué decirle a Jesús-
-  Pues pon una silla frente a ti, arrodíllate ante ella y cierra los ojos.  Imagínate que Jesús está sentado en ella y dile lo que quieras -- que te duelen los huesos, que tienes hambre, que las gallinas no ponen-
Parece que el señor le cogió el gusto al ritual y lo hizo todas las noches durante el resto de su vida.
Una mañana entró el amigo al cuarto y se encontró al nuevo devoto de rodillas ante la silla y con la cabeza sobre el asiento, muerto.
- Murió entre los brazos de Jesús, quien estaba sentado en la silla -

Luego de contarme la leyenda Gladys me explicó por qué en su apartamentito siempre hay una silla vacía.  - Por si mi papá viene en la noche y tenga donde sentarse -

domingo, 17 de noviembre de 2013

Reasonable Malice (Review)

Reasonable Malice by Jt Sather
Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
Vibrant no nonsense prose is something that characterizes Jt Sather's work. His first person narrative makes the reader feel immersed in this author's vibrant life -- perhaps more like living in a constant earthquake zone.
On the human frailty side, nothing is sweeter than revenge -- or the path to it. 
This is a short story that has a very interesting prologue and on to a believable story -- because it is set in Las Vegas?

sábado, 16 de noviembre de 2013

The Gypsy Way (Review)

The Gypsy Way - Running in Corridors- by Frankie Fulwood
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
This is a book that I had to read twice, to make sure I understood the English regionalisms that were needed in this "English story" -- or was it Irish written in English? It was quite a pleasurable trans-cultural literary experience.
It is not easy to write in first person while maintaining reader's interest, especially if there may not be too many issues to identify with. Though there were, in fact, quite a few. For example, I found that the author's perception of women was -- though not politically correct nowadays -- pretty much the same as most fellows' in my country. (Do they belong to a special… strange… incomprehensible breed?)
The variety of issues encountered were well described -- domestic violence, Irish knuckle bare boxing, even the anthropological facts about the Roma's dark skin tone provided a wide variety of educational facts. And let's not forget the lessons in poultry breeding.
As I started the second read, where I understood that lighting a fag was not a homophobic hate action, but never quite pictured what a sleeper hanging from a nipple was, I realized that I was reading someone's personal diary. 
And yes, the author had me running in corridors following his thread. The first read was training; in the second I got to the finish line.
Go for it!

jueves, 14 de noviembre de 2013

A Return Ticket (Review)

A Return Ticket by Tom Duke
Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
Doomsday themes are not my thing. Nevertheless, the story needs some editing to be a perfect work -- reaching Singapore by ship to then drive on to France? Later on I discovered it was meant Hong Kong to France. The characters stand on their own very well and there is a sense of permanent tension towards survival. The ending was not as strong as the story, though quite poetic -- perhaps a good alternative under the circumstances.

sábado, 9 de noviembre de 2013

Wilderness Heart (Review)


Wilderness Heart by Jacqueline Hopkins
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
I usually tire easily when reading the contemporary romance gender.  Too mushy for my taste.  Nevertheless, this novel kept me interested, especially because the author did not  immediately dive into torrid sexual suggestions or scenes.  Instead, I was presented with what seemed to be serious concerns and personal contradictions -- nature preservation vs. need for lumbering, safe elk hunting. Add a touch of mystery with a thriller twist.
The author's taste in sensual description was highlighted by her description of what a real nice man's butt must be -- one that completely fills a pair of jeans.  As a result I can say that though there are some rather explicit sexual scenes, these are tasteful and leave enough to the reader's imagination.  Sensuality, therefore, permeates the entire story.
I guess I may have forgotten a few things about sex, but I have always been intrigued by the "musky smell" concept -- it brings me the urge to shower the culprit!
Oh yes, love does end up the winner!

lunes, 4 de noviembre de 2013

Aymaran Shadow (Review)

Aymaran Shadow by Hemanth Gorur
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
I must admit that I am always wary of books that have quite a few reviews already posted, especially when the ratings cover the full 1-5 spectrum. Nevertheless, there is a soft spot for my colleagues who write in English as a second language.
This being said, I had to keep in mind that "perhaps the Aymaran people spoke bad Spanish," which allowed me to overlook the author's using an additional language too lightly. Especially my own -- Spanish.
I did find some of the poetry that Indian English tends to bring to my ears -- especially the lack of contractions. Not many readers unfamiliar with this version of English appreciate the end result. 
There was a dialogue which took the form of an internet chat -- I found this amusing and perhaps original, especially in a story that began with the past -- centuries -- and dealt with the present. 
This was an interesting read.
Aymaran Shadow by Hemanth Gorur
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
I must admit that I am always wary of books that have quite a few reviews already posted, especially when the ratings cover the full 1-5 spectrum.  Nevertheless, there is a soft spot for my colleagues who write in English as a second language.
This being said, I had to keep in mind that "perhaps the Aymaran people spoke bad Spanish," which allowed me to look over the author's using an additional language too lightly.  Especially my own -- Spanish.
I did find some of the poetry that Indian English tends to bring to my ears -- especially the lack of contractions.  Not many readers unfamiliar with this version of English appreciate the end result. 
There was a dialogue which took the form of an internet chat -- I found this amusing and perhaps original, especially in a story that began with the past -- centuries -- and dealt with the present. 
This was an interesting read.