Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Shadow and Wind

I just finished reading a most satisfying novel: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Not usually my genre, but then I'm open to anything. Even the paperback version of this NY Times bestseller retains the appearance of an old leather bound volume. What Zafron has done here is bring a gothic quality to a multi-layered story set in Paris and Barcelona in the 1930s through the mid 1950s.
The blurbs all refer to murder, madness and doomed love, but it's oh so much more. I think the parallel stories about lovers struggling to fight their attraction because mystery surrounds everything is what is most powerful. But all the character description and the precise detail of the cities involved are equally part of the fascination. Zafron has a real gift for the contradictions in meaningful relationships, whether they be intimate or casual, spontaneous or long-lasting. And any book with a called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books has got to be worth a look.
Every now and then a quote would appear that stands well on its own. For example:

But the years went by in peace. Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don't stop at your station.

Such possibility in that quote. Makes me think about how we judge other lives, the daily train traffic that passes our station and how we all experience the passage of time.

This week has seen an upturn in suicide stories in the news. From the encroaching world of technology and social media to the eroding notion of privacy in this or any culture, the tragedy is magnified by young people who have the mistaken notion that life is not worth living because some unfortunate circumstance broadcast by unthinking, desensitized, know nothings went viral. Yes, uncaring, illegal, even psychopathic on some level, but definitely survivable. We need to stop our trains at more stations.

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