Tuesday, April 25, 2006
In a three day rush, I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, savoring every word, every passage, every character. Ruiz Zafon seamlessly molded a mystery novel with a work of high literary merit...no easy feat. The book reads easily and is inundated with passages that smell of the shadowy streets and characters Ruiz Zafron so meticulously describes.
"This place was already ancient when my father brought me here for the first time, many years ago. Perhaps as old as the city itself. Nobody knows for certain how long it has existed, or who created it. I will tell you what my father told me, thought. When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader's hands. In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody's best friend. Now they have only us, Daniel. Do you think you'll be able to keep such a secret?"
As a reader, that's what I consider myself, a custodian of books. And I especially wish there was some place like this Cemetery of Forgotten Books that Daniel's father takes him to. Where books don't die or lose readers, they simply lie in wait for their next reader to dust of their cover and take over another imagination. Where books are held to the highest standards and require protection from the elements of society that would rather they were gone. Where books are pathways to greater adventures and mysteries.
Ruiz Zafron intricately plotted a story surrounding the disappearance of a writer's, Julian Carax, novels all being bought or stolen, only so they can be burned. A stranger with no face lurks in shadows, behind closed doors and in foreign cities, searching for each Carax novel to banish them forever. Ashes to ashes. When Daniel Sempre takes Carax's novel The Shadow of the Wind from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, his life, and those of his loved ones, are put on a path of danger and adventure reminiscent of a Dumas novel.
I admit that I became interested in Ruiz Zafon's novel because of it's fairly soap opera-esque title and the book's cover design, but I swallowed the book whole...every last word was cooked perfectly.
Simon Winchester The Professor and the Madman
Steven Heighton The Shadow Boxer
George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue