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Adrián Astur Álvarez

Joined 8 months, 2 weeks ago

A reader and a writer.

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2023 Reading Goal

8% complete! Adrián Astur Álvarez has read 1 of 12 books.

Review of 'Message from the Shadows' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

There are stories here that are so exceptional, so inspiring, so creative, they made me rethink everything I thought I knew about fiction. Stories like Clouds, The Woman From Porto Pim, Night, Sea, or Distance, and The Trains that go to Madras. These are among the best of Tabucchi's short work in my opinion, and well worth the price of the volume. Other stories maybe not so much but then, I might be commenting on their translations, I don't know. This is a collaborative publication. The stories are translations done by 7 different writers.

I am still a dedicated Tabbuchi follower. This book took me a long time to get through only because it had taken me some time to settle into a routine after moving from the US to Spain. What a great companion this book has been for my circumstance, however. Tabucchi is nothing of not a European …

A metaphysical detective story about love and existence. When Tadeus sets out to find Isabel, …

Review of 'For Isabel' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I am now, after finishing my second by the writer, among the small literary cadre of dedicated Tabucchi fans. His creativity, his lightness, his jazz-like riffs on themes both profound and quirky, for all these reasons combined with the masterful prose hinted at by the translations I have read, I am committed. In For Isabel, Tabucchi shows off a virtuosic handling of long-form structural writing. It would be enough to make me consider putting my pen down, if I wasn't so inspired by his art.

This is a short project, and as good an introduction to the writer as any, so for that, if you have not read this Italian master, I highly recommend it. And if you have? Well, I don't need to tell you.

Posthumous papers of a living author (Paperback, 2006, Archipelago Books) 5 stars

Review of 'Posthumous papers of a living author' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

My first Musil, though I think many ease into him this way. How else could I commit to his life's work, the multi-volume opus, A Man Without Qualities? Here we have many short works: essays in miniature, scraps of ideas, flourishes of descriptive writing, sometimes only a few pages long. But they are written with such clarity and precision that when the most abstractly investigative piece glimmers like a finely cut diamond. Musil is such an intentional writer. I know that sounds silly and maybe a obvious but it is this aspect of his voice that comes across the most clearly. From the content of a piece right down to the level of sentence construction not a word or grammatical phrasing is taken for granted. I found, while reading, every paragraph was worth showing down for. In fact, as short as the pieces collected here they each demanded such a …

Writing with the same narrative generosity, the same belief in the dignity and voice of …

Review of 'Postcard for Annie' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is a fantastic collection of masterfully written short stories all concerned with mapping the inner and outer contours of women in their complicated relationships to various types of men in the world: husbands, sons, lovers, etc. Jessen's interests are novel and rigorous. Be sure, this is not a "men be like but women be like" thematic gathering. The identities articulated in highly readable prose are as dark and deep as any forest. The result transcends. I have a few stories I came away particularly enthusiastic about but none of the stories here are throwaways. This would make a fantastic book club read because I'm sure readers will connect to these shorts in myriad ways.

Review of 'Ti Amo' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

"We've been through so many phases in the time you've been ill, but after we got married in the Summer, you'd been ill for a year then, and for a long time it was as if everything was all about getting that done, getting married, as if that was our focal point, the thing we were moving towards instead of death, and we were going there together, but after we got married there was nothing ahead of us anymore, nothing we had to look forward to together. All there is now is that you're going to die. And you say you're not. So we're not together in that, or at least it's not something we talk about, but still its the point towards which we're heading now." - pg 72

This book hit me like a bag of hammers. I'll be honest, I had no idea what it was about. …

Artforum (2020, New Directions) 4 stars

Review of 'Artforum' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It is impossible to read a César Aira novella without a huge smile on my face. He's playful, often delightfuly cerebral, and always so creative. This work is no exception. A series of interconnected stories centering on a character who adores Artforum magazine but who has some difficulty acquiring it from Buenos Aires. The stories range from the tragic to the contemplative and just by using this relatively straightforward scarce, foreign art magazine conceit Aira is able to build themes about art creation, art consumption, the reception of art through the lens of class and national identity. And he does all of this without breaking character.

Kibogo (2022, Steerforth Press) 4 stars

In four beautifully woven parts, Mukasonga spins a marvelous recounting of the clash between ancient …

Review of 'Kibogo' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I don't quite know how she's done this. Mukasonga tells a sensitive tale about vulnerable characters but she manages to make it sweeping, over long stretches of time and through entire generations of a village. She manages to make the characters specific and also anonymous. She manages to tell a tale from the distant perspective of the kind of far removed 3rd person you might hear around a campfire or read in an historical account but she does all of this in 150 pages and she makes it look easy. The amount of craft in this novel is incredible and just so goddamned impressive.

And the themes here are profound. This is no small book however short. Mukasonga is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.

Wheel with a single spoke (2012, Archipelago Books) 5 stars

" "...The poet comes into possession of an important, essential message, one that has the …

Review of 'Wheel with a single spoke' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I knew absolutely nothing about this Romanian post war poet but, as usual, felt comfortable letting Archipelago guide my attention. My trust was rewarded. This is one of the finest collections of translated poetry I have read in a while. Ranging from humorous games to achingly beautiful pangs of emotion, a thoughtful reader will no doubt have as easy a time immersing themselves in the world of Stanescu as I did. Oh, and Sean Cotter's afterword was fantastic! It gave space to the reader to discover this work alone while highlighting some of the more contextually intellectual projects this poet was working with.

I highly recommend seeking this volume out!

The Fortune of War (Aubrey Maturin Series) (1991, W. W. Norton & Company) 4 stars

Review of 'The Fortune of War (Aubrey Maturin Series)' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Here the story continues in an arc of misfortune for our heroes and this volume has everything: spy plots, at sea action, Americans, everything. And all the while O'Brian sets his epic story apart from other genre works with incredibly well crafted prose, and vulnerable characters the reader has gotten to know well from the start of the series.

Review of 'Moldy Strawberries' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Exceptional prose written in a style that inhabits a liminal space between dreams and waking. Each story begins with a clap ("Suddenly, he started to dance beautifully and walk toward me." - Fat Tuesday. "'Hermes!' The whip cracked against the worn wood of the table." - Sergeant Garcia. "It was like her head was plunged under water, and an organ grinder was playing by the river." - Music Box) and after the initial shock of action and lyrical setting Abreu immerses the reader into the phenomenology of character. I found the technique overwhelming at times. Yes, the prose is fluid and lends to quick reading but that same pace of reading was just too fast for me and I had to force myself to slow down or even re-read certain paragraphs. I was always rewarded for doing this. That magic trick of easy diction and dense content was something I …

Absolute solitude (2016) 4 stars

Review of 'Absolute solitude' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

5 stars for Loynaz's work, 3 stars for the translation.

It is a brave move for a publishing company to put out side by side language editions. Brave, and also maybe not so brave. In this case, it was a necessary move to offer the raw brilliance of Loynaz's language beside O'Connor's incredibly concise work bringing her poems to English. Of course, translating poetry is such a difficult undertaking, not unsimilar to interpreting jokes, but here I gotta say, there were times when the straight to the point English style really missed out on the rhythm in baffling ways. Take this instance:


La criatura de isla pareceme, no se por que, una criatura distinta. Mas leve, mas sutil, mas sensitiva.


The island creature seems to me, I don't know why, a different kind of creature. Lighter, subtler, more sensitive.

As you can see, this is not a bad …

Review of 'Eline Vere' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

More like 3. 5 stars.

This took me forever to read. Mostly because I took on this novel just before a massive undertaking: selling our house in Washington, putting all of our stuff into temporary storage, and moving my little family including kids, cats and dogs across the world. We're moving to Spain! The kids are still pretty young and the housing market was pretty decent. The time was right to make a big life change, for no other reason than to live a slower, richer existence, and to improve my Instagram feed (kidding). I'm not quite there yet (still waiting on the visa - ugh) but activity has slowed down enough for me to read again and I started by finishing Couperus' shot at a Hague novel.

This one has a slow, easy going pace. The prose is beautiful and I was never oppressed by the story's rhythm but …

Echopraxia (2014, Tor Books) 4 stars

A follow-up to the Hugo Award-nominated Blindsight, Echopraxia is set in a 22nd-century world transformed …

Review of 'Echopraxia' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Surely the best part of this novel was the author's notes section at the back of the book where all the scientific interests that inspired Watts to write this novel are listed and explored to some degree. In the novel itself, those are probably the only worthy bits. Watts excels at creatively expressing the realized points of speculative theories and Echopraxia is a successful Hard Scifi novel in that regard. Sadly, in all other regards this story cannot compare to Blindsight. He ditched emotional connection and chose interior lecture hall and the result was unsurprisingly easy for me to ditch altogether. If you are in the mood to contemplate the scientific underpinnings of this story and would rather set aside the mushy stuff of Blindsight (or, like, literature) then you will enjoy this book very much. His creative synthesis of theory into something like a plot is dazzling for its …