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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • January 22, 2006


    [6] Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    The Shadow of the Wind takes a line of betrayal, lost friendship, hatred, love, and dreams that lived in the shadow of the wind. It is a touching homage to the mystical power of books that serve as mirrors to offer us what already carry inside us. Very few novel like the one in question powerfully illustrates how a book can incite sentiment buried deep inside our heart that only become unleashed at a certain time and at a certain stage of life's walk, upon the stimulation of a message.

    For Daniel, the son of a Barcelona bookseller, Julian Carax's novel seems to be waiting for him even before his birth on the shelf of the clandestine Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a most best-kept secret of the city. It is a library tended by the city's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone, a dedicated bibliophile, who will care about them and relish them again. Destiny is for sure at work regardless of whether it is Daniel who chooses Julian Carax's book or the book itself does choose him. The mystery Daniel yet to demesmerize, peel by peel, strip by strip, layers by layer, ineluctably binds people from chance encounter in life together through a strange chain of destiny.

    The bookseller, Daniel's father, initiates his son into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to console him of his despondency over the loss of memory of his mother's face. As his father coaxes him to choose a book that will carry ineffable meaning and irresistible appeal for him from the seemingly boundless, spiraling labyrinth of shelves, Daniel picks Julian Carax's The Shadow of the Wind, which intrigues him. The novel, its character, which later on brings out of the pages and chases after him, and its mysterious author, at once fascinates him. He refuses to sell the book at any price, guards it as his most precious possession and adopts it for life.

    To Daniel's shock, a strange person who later reveals to him to be a man deprived of any facial feature, has been systematically and assiduously destroying every single copy of every book Julian Carax had written. Collectors either sell off or surrender altogether their remaining copies to the man for fear of deadly mishap despite the high values of the books. It intrigues Daniel even more as he realizes he may possess the very last copy of Carax's books in existence.

    Daniel, with the complicity of the witty Furmin, an ex-spy, ventures to unravel the mystery of Julian Carax only to realize all his findings, leads, second-hand rumors, third-hand stories, vague memories, and opinions are nothing but scrapes of an iceberg: they only add to Carax's enigma. Barcelona is the city in which Carax was born and from which he disappeared without a trace at the start of the war.

    Further investigation leads Daniel to Penelope Aldaya who sits at the center of the whole mystery, with whom she was enmeshed in a heart-piercing romance relationship. Their love is an act of defiance, arrogance, and subversion: love that is a blind desire to be discovered, a secret that hopes to be laid open, a love that devours them. What he starts off as an innocent quest to rescue Carax from recesses of the past becomes a connecting-the-dot reconstruction of a heart-rending love tragedy with sharp nuances of those who were involved. It also offers a peek of the city's past that was forgotten and ruined after the war.

    Carax's unswerving desire to lead a private life as if he is no longer interested in the world makes the deepest impression on Daniel. His book conveys a unique message to Daniel and impregnates his resolve to discover his life. For every book has a soul: the soul of the person who writes it and that of the one who reads, lives, and dreams with it. Daniel relates to Carax's battered love life as his relationship with Beatriz is under fire. Carax's checkered fate might have awakened a strange but tender sympathy in Daniel, which prompts him to carry on the probe.

    The Shadow of the Wind is an uncannily absorbing mystery, a heart-piercing love story, and a literary historical fiction. It pays homage to the mystical power of a book when it finds the reader to whom it appeals and in whom awakes a tender affection and sense of relatability. The novel spins off to numerous leads from the beginning and, with cunning decoys and twists, throws one to dead ends and false tracks which reader often takes to be the truth. The imminent sense of reaching the bottom of the truth often adds to the enigma. The bright side of this punctilious craft of convolution is a tight-knitted plot, spans over intervals of time and memory, riddled of a haunting suspense. One would find the figure of Julian Carax increasingly intriguing as everything related to him seems to be shrouded in mystery. Each of the people involved in this mystery is poisoned by the troubled memory of what he/she feels has been snatched from him/her. The novel is therefore, in a paradoxical way, a homage to the kind of true love that is capable of wrecking what stupendous a damage that Julian Carax has suffered.


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