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.

Now reading:
Simon Winchester The Professor and the Madman

On deck:
Steven Heighton The Shadow Boxer

Listening to:
George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

6 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Hmmm -- we own this book, but I haven't read it. Maybe I should.

Hope you are enjoying the Winchester book. I thought it was fun.

M. Barresi said...

Dorothy, if you have this book, I highly recommend it for sure. Now I've got to go find out more about Ruiz Zafon. I don't even know if he's written anything else.

Stefanie said...

Glad you enjoyed the book so much. I got to meet the author a little over a year agoo when he was in town for a reading. Very nice man. And even better, he said he is writing two more books that involved the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I can hardly wait!

M. Barresi said...

I loved the novel and when the next in the series comes out, I'd probably even splurge and get them hardcover. That's great that you got to meet him and it's good to hear that he's a nice guy. Living in Boston, there are plenty of chances to meet/hear/see writers, but I'm still too lazy to get up and go. Perhaps that'll be my next breakthrough?

Danielle said...

I really enjoyed the Zafon book, too. How long did it take you to figure out who the strenger with no face was? It took me a while, but I caught on before he revealed it. I didn't know he was writing more--I will have to watch for them!

M. Barresi said...

Danielle, about half way through I figured out who the man with no face was, but that didn't dampen my mood, which would have normally. It's strange, or rather, I'm strange, because though I try and figure out the ending ahead of time, if I end up being right, it usually feels like a let down. I want the writer to be smarter than me (which isn't too hard.) But Zafon was a strong enough writer to overcome this ever so slight glitch.