22 Oct 2018

Turbulent Life of George Orwell


During our last Donostia Book Club meeting we talked about George Orwell's “1984” and Orwell's biography. One of the first interesting things is, that not many know George Orwell's real name. Yes, you got it right George Orwell is a pen name!



He was born as Eric Arthur Blair on June, 25th, 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, in then British colony of India, where his father, Richard Walmesley Blair, was working as an Opium Agent in the Indian Civil Service. His paternal grandfather had served in the Indian army and his maternal grandfather had been a teak merchant in Burma. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), brought him to England at the age of one and Orwell was brought up almost exclusively by her. He did not see his father again until 1907, when Richard visited England for three months before leaving again until 1912. Eric had an older sister named Marjorie and a younger sister named Avril. He would later jokingly describe his family's background as "lower-upper-middle class." The Thames Valley locales in which the family was settled provided the background to his novel Coming Up For Air (1939).



At the beginning, Eric was a studious child. At the age of five, he was sent to a small Anglican parish school in Henley, which his sister had attended before him. He never wrote anything about that time, but he must have caused a good impression as two years later he was recommended to the headmaster of one of the most successful preparatory schools in England at the time: St Cyprian's School, in Eastbourne, Sussex. He attended St Cyprian's on a scholarship (his parents struggled with money and to pay only half of the fees was a huge relief for them). ‘No one can look back on his schooldays and say with truth that they were altogether unhappy.’ he wrote later in an essay ‘Such, Such Were The Joys’, but he mostly remembered that school with resentment. Then, in May 1917, he moved to Eton College where he won a King’s Scholarship. At Eton he started having problems and was not a brilliant student that his previous teachers had known. He left the school in December 1921 after only a term in the sixth form. The following June he passed the entrance examination of the Indian Imperial Police and was accepted into its Burma division.

As a child, Orwell was shy and lacked self-confidence. He suffered from bronchitis all his life. He spent long hours reading and was especially interested in science fiction, ghost stories, William Shakespeare's (1564–1616) plays, and fiction by Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), Charles Dickens (1812–1870), and Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).

In 1922, Orwell joined the India Imperial Police Force and was posted to Burma. He served there for five years and thereafter resigned and returned to England in order to pursue his passion of writing.


There is not much we know about his stay in Burma. He based two of his best-known essays on his experiences there, ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant’ and his first novel Burmese Days (1934). It is widely believed his stay in Burma ruined his health. He left it in June 1927 on a medical certificate. The decision to resign from the Burma Police was taken after his return, already in 1928.

For the next five years his life was rather hectic, he tried a bit of everything: living with his parents, teaching in provate schools, living as a bum in Paris... That last experience he used as the background to his first published work, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). He adopted his pen name in 1933, shortly before its publication. To create the professional alias he combined the name of the reigning monarch but also of the patron saint of England with a local river (the River Orwell in Suffolk was one of his favourite English sites).

Finally Orwell decided to take a job as an assistant in a secondhand London Hampstead bookshop. This was a productive period. Here he met and married his first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, and wrote a third novel, partly based on his book-trade experiences, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). The Orwells began their married life in a tiny cottage in Wallington, Hertfordshire, where Orwell worked up the material gathered on a recent tour of the industrial north into The Road to Wigan Pier (1937). Although the book’s second half consists of a long, inflammatory polemic on Socialism, Orwell’s political views were still not fully formed.


In the spring of 1936 Orwell moved to Wallington, Hertfordshire, and several months later married Eileen O'Shaughnessy, a teacher and journalist.

The defining political experience of his life, alternatively, was the six months he spent in Spain, in 1937, as a Republican volunteer against Franco. As a sympathiser of the Independent Labour Party (of which he became a member in 1938), he joined the militia of its sister party in Spain, the non-Stalinist far-left POUM (Workers' Party of Marxist Unification), in which he fought as an infantryman. Orwell was shot in the neck (near Huesca) on May 20, 1937, an experience he described in his short essay "Wounded by a Fascist Sniper", as well as in Homage to Catalonia. The bullet passed within a few millimetres of his carotid artery. He and his wife Eileen left Spain after narrowly missing being arrested as "Trotskyites" when the communists moved to suppress the POUM in June 1937. Spain made Orwell ‘believe in Socialism for the first time’, as he put it, while instilling an enduring hatred of totalitarian political systems. Spain, he wrote, had 'turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism.' (an essay 'Why I Write').

In July 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out. Orwell arrived in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of autumn and joined the militia. Orwell was wounded in the middle of May 1937. During his recovery, the militia was declared illegal, and he fled into France in June. His experiences in Spain had made him into a revolutionary socialist, one who advocated change to a socialist form of society through rebellion of the people. (ORwell is the one with a puppy)

Homage to Catalonia, an account of his time in Spain, was published in April 1938. He spent most of the next year recuperating, both in England and Morocco, from a life-threatening lung haemorrhage. At this stage Orwell was determined to oppose the looming international conflict, only changing his mind on the announcement of the Russo-German pact in August 1939. Initially Orwell had high hopes of the war, which he believed would instil a sense of Socialist purpose: this view was developed in the pamphlet essay The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius (1941). Rejected for military service on health grounds, he became a talks producer in the BBC’s Eastern Service, a job he came to dislike. The BBC’s atmosphere, he complained, ‘is something between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum, and all we are doing at present is useless, or slightly worse than useless’. He was well aware that he was shaping propaganda, and wrote that he felt like "an orange that's been trodden on by a very dirty boot." Despite the good pay, he resigned in 1943 and he secured a position of a literary editor of the left-wing weekly magazine Tribune, to which he also contributed a column under the heading ‘As I Please’.



Animal Farm, his bitter satire of the Soviet experiment, was written by the middle of 1944. Publishers’ timidity, and the covert pressure exerted by a Russian spy working for the Ministry of Information, delayed its appearance until August 1945. The royalties from Animal Farm provided Orwell with a comfortable income for the first time in his adult life but by this time Orwell’s personal life was in ruins. Five months previously Eileen had died of heart failure during a routine operation. The couple had previously adopted a small boy, Richard Horatio Blair, whom Orwell, with the help of his sister Avril, was determined to raise on his own. Richard Blair remembers that his father "could not have done it without Avril. She was an excellent cook, and very practical. None of the accounts of my father's time on Jura recognise how essential she was."

Son, Richard Blair

Through his friend David Astor, he had already begun to explore the possibility of living on the remote Scottish island of Jura. Much of the last half-decade of his life was spent in the Inner Hebrides struggling against worsening health to complete his final novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. After finishing a final draft at the end of 1948 he suffered a complete physical collapse and was taken away to a nursing home in the Cotswolds suffering from advanced tuberculosis. The novel’s enormous international success, on publication in June 1949, came too late for its author.

In 1947 there was no cure for TB - doctors prescribed fresh air and a regular diet - but there was a new, experimental drug on the market, streptomycin. Astor arranged for a shipment to Hairmyres from the US.
Richard Blair believes that his father was given excessive doses of the new wonder drug. The side effects were horrific (throat ulcers, blisters in the mouth, hair loss, peeling skin and the disintegration of toe and fingernails) but in March 1948, after a three-month course, the TB symptoms had disappeared. "It's all over now, and evidently the drug has done its stuff," Orwell told his publisher. "It's rather like sinking the ship to get rid of the rats, but worth it if it works."

Barnhill

By mid-November, too weak to walk, he retired to bed to tackle "the grisly job" of typing the book on his "decrepit typewriter" by himself. Sustained by endless roll-ups, pots of coffee, strong tea and the warmth of his paraffin heater, with gales buffeting Barnhill, night and day, he struggled on. By 30 November 1948 it was virtually done.
By now Orwell had left Jura and checked into a TB sanitorium high in the Cotswolds. "I ought to have done this two months ago," he told Astor, "but I wanted to get that bloody book finished." Once again Astor stepped in to monitor his friend's treatment but Orwell's specialist was privately pessimistic.



Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on 8 June 1949 (five days later in the US) and was almost universally recognised as a masterpiece, even by Winston Churchill, who told his doctor that he had read it twice. Orwell's health continued to decline. In October 1949, in his room at University College hospital, he married Sonia Brownell, an editorial assistant on he literary magazine Horizon. with David Astor as best man. It was a fleeting moment of happiness; he lingered into the new year of 1950. In the small hours of 21 January he suffered a massive haemorrhage in hospital and died alone.

The news was broadcast on the BBC the next morning. Avril Blair and her nephew, still up on Jura, heard the report on the little battery radio in Barnhill. Richard Blair does not recall whether the day was bright or cold but remembers the shock of the news: his father was dead, aged 46. He died from tuberculosis which he had probably contracted during the period described in Down and Out in Paris and London. He was in and out of hospitals for the last three years of his life. Having requested burial in accordance with the Anglican rite, he was interred in All Saints' Churchyard, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire with the simple epitaph: “Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950.”



Sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/orwell_george.shtml
http://www.orwell.ru/a_life/newsinger/english/e_oc
http://www.orwell.ru/a_life/newsinger/english/e_gosr
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/may/10/1984-george-orwell


7 Oct 2018

Reseña de mi primer libro bizarro: "Fantasma"

Hoy os queiro hablar de la novela "Fantasma" (org. Hunt) de Laura Lee Bahr. Dejemos lo claro desde principio: no es un libro para todos. Si os gustan las historias claras, con una solución muy bien explicada, más tradicionales y/o lineales, deberíais buscaros otra cosa. Pero si os gusta experimentar y tenéis la mente abierta, ese es vuestro libro. 

Texto de contraportada:
"Fantasma se abre con la aparición del cadáver de Sarah, fallecida en extrañas circunstancias. Esta misteriosa mujer te habla directamente porque tú (sí, tú, quien está leyendo esto) eres un protagonista más de la historia. Te meterás en la piel de un aspirante a estrella del rock, y de tus decisiones dependerá que llegues a un final de película o que te tengas que arrodillar para conseguir respuestas. Pero no estarás solo en este onírico viaje, porque también es la historia de Simon, un periodista que está enamorado de la víctima y quiere saber qué ha pasado; y, por supuesto, la de Sarah, de la que no sabes muy bien si ha fallecido o no, ya que la muerte será el menor de tus problemas.
Concebida como una novela del estilo «Elige tu propia aventura» a la que se le han extirpado las opciones del tipo «si eliges esto, pasa a la página 27»Fantasma es una experiencia lectora caleidoscópica que no se olvida fácilmente. Bahr nos llevará por un Los Ángeles lleno de encrucijadas de las que probaremos todas y cada una de sus ramificaciones. El terror se entreteje con el noir en un laberinto que toma las atmósferas del Mulholland Drive de David Lynch o las alteraciones espaciotemporales del Matadero cincode Kurt Vonnegut y que no está exento de cierto sentido del humor.
Además de escritora, Laura Lee Bahr es una premiada actriz, guionista y directora de cine independiente. Sus relatos han aparecido en varias antologías como In Heaven Everything is FineDemons Psychos, ganadora del premio Bram Stoker a la mejor antología. Fantasma es su primera novela. Actualmente se encuentra trabajando en la posproducción de la película Boned, que ha escrito y dirigido. Vive en Los Ángeles con su pareja y con un gato anciano.
Ganadora del premio Wonderland a la mejor novela de bizarro en 2011.
Prólogo de Tamara Romero.
Traducción de Hugo Camacho"



Orciny Press se aventuró a publicar la novela "Fantasma" (traducida por Hugo Camacho), un título reconocido (y premiado) del género bizarro y sin duda fue un acierto. Es una propuesta única, imposible de comparar con lo que está ahora mismo disponible en el mercado español. 

Leer esta novela ha sido todo un caleidoscopio de emociones. Saltos en el tiempo, entre los personajes, incluso entre diferentes opciones de lo que pudiese pasar... Y además la narración en la segunda persona no lo hacen una lectura muy fácil. Al principio puede incomodar, pero de eso se trata. Es adictivo y nos ofrece un viaje como en una casa de espejos, pero de los que dan miedo. Desesperadamente intentamos buscar una salida, pero en vez de eso nos perdemos más y más en la historia.

Por como está escrito lo único que os puedo revelar son los res personajes: Richard Jamison, Sarah While, Simon Would. Si, los dos últimos tienen nombres con significado, pero esto lo mejor penssarlo ya al acabar la historia... 

Para no quedarme corta, os dejo una entrevista con la autora:


26 Sep 2018

Mi primer audiobook resultó ser un éxito

Hoy os quiero hablar de mi primera experiencia con un audiobook. A través de Edicion Anticipada y Editorial Alfaguara (un sello de  Penguin Random House) recibí “La desaparición de Stephanie Mailer” de Joël Dicker (traducido por María Teresa Gallego y Amaya García Gallego) narrado por Víctor Velasco, Juan Carlos Gustems, Raúl Llorens, Núria Mediavilla, Nerea Alfonso, Gemma Ibáñez, Luis Posada y Masumi Mutsuda. Lo primero que me impresiono era la cantidad de personas que participaron en este proyecto (otras muchas no nombradas, que se ocuparon del sonido etc.!) y... la duración: 21 horas y 8 minutos. En papel el libro tiene unas 650 páginas y calculo que lo podría leer en unos 3-4 días, hasta 5 cuando estoy ocupada. Pero con un audiobook la cosa resultó ser diferente. Creo que es problema mío, pero escuchando algo, necesito concentración máxima. No puedo escucharlo en bus, o cuando hay gente en la misma habitación, porque con facilidad me despisto y pierdo el hilo de la historia. Por eso tarde unas semanas en acabarlo, poniendo algunas partes más de una vez. Con papel no me pasa esto, me desconecto sin problemas. Pero se, que es cosa mía. De hecho, eso sería mi única pega al formato: para mi es un poco menos práctico si quiero leer algo rápido. Pero por lo demás: me encantó. Es un poco como trasladarse de vuelta a la infancia cuando los padres nos leían algo antes de dormirnos. Escucharlo en la cama antes de quedarme dormida era mi momento favorito del día.
Eso sobre el formato, ahora la historia.


Sinopsis:
La noche del 30 de julio de 1994 la apacible población de Orphea, en los Hamptons, asiste a la gran apertura del festival de teatro. Pero el alcalde se retrasa... Mientras tanto, Samuel Paladin recorre las calles vacías buscando a su mujer, hasta hallar su cadáver ante la casa del alcalde. Dentro, toda la familia ha sido asesinada.


Jesse Rosenberg y Derek Scott son los dos jóvenes policías de Nueva York que resuelven con éxito el caso, pero veinte años más tarde, en la ceremonia de despedida de la policía a Rosenberg, la periodista Stephanie Mailer lo afronta: pretende que Dereck y Jesse se equivocaron de asesino a pesar de que la prueba se hallara delante de sus ojos, y que ella posee información clave. Pero días después, desaparece.

Así se inicia este colosal thriller que avanza en el pasado y el presente a ritmo vertiginoso, sumando tramas, personajes, sorpresas y vueltas de tuerca, sacudiendo e impulsando al lector sin freno posible hacia el inesperado e inolvidable desenlace.”

La trama y el planteamiento de los hechos me gustaron mucho. Los saltos entre la investigación del 1994 y 2014 añaden al misterio, complican la situación. También siendo un tipo de la novela coral (no exactamente, pero parecido), con múltiples personajes implicados y varias historias en paralelo resulta muy interesante. Así que la idea: fenomenal. Un thriller bien construido. Tampoco le falta nada al estilo, el principio suena casi como un cuento, pero uno de los oscuros, de verdad, no uno de Disney: “Solo las personas familiarizadas con la región de los Hamptons, en el estado de Nueva York, se enteraron de lo sucedido el 30 de julio de 1994 en Orphea, una ciudad de veraneo pequeña y encopetada a orillas del océano.” Muchas descripciones pero nunca aburridas ni innecesarias nos hacen disfrutar de ese largo viaje.

La novela consta de 69 capítulos. Más o menos en el capitulo 12 me empecé a preguntar si no hay demasiadas vueltas, ciertas repeticiones. Nombrar los personajes casi siempre por nombre y apellido (al saltar de un punto de vista al otro) me resultaba un poco raro. Se que esta hecho en plan crónica, o diario, pero creo que es una de las cosas que me molestaría si hubiera leído el libro en papel. Como audiobook era bastante cómodo y aunque estuve consciente del truco, me ayudó seguir la trama. Otro gran plus para audiobook.



El desenlace. Es algo que en caso de los thrillers me vuelve loca. En mi opinión el lector tiene que tener la posibilidad de adivinar quien es el asesino, no se le puede ocultar los hechos y de repente sacar de la manga algo totalmente inexplicado antes. Pero el truco es no hacerlo demasiado obvio. Me gusta adivinarlo en los últimos 5-6 capítulos. En este caso, por la complejidad de la trama (os lo juro si digo cualquier cosa más va a ser un spoiler grande) adiviné lo importante, pero sin muchos detalles. Lo adivine pronto, bueno pronto es relativo en caso de 69 capítulos... Yo diría que en capitulo 42 o 43 ya tenía mi persona sospechosa. Pero hasta final esperaba algo raro y no me decepcione. Así que otro plus, aunque me gustaría descubrirlo un poco más tarde.

Otra cosa que me gustó mucho fue la construcción del personaje de Anna Kanner. Me pareció muy real y probable. Una mujer experimentada y fuerte, pero con sus debilitades. Creo que llegará a gustar a muchas lectoras que podrán ver en ella alguien real, pero con calidades excepcionales. Prestad atención al capítulo 13 y el sexismo al que tiene que enfrentarse.

Para que todo no sea perfecto, tengo una pega. La historia de amor de Jesse Rosenberg y Natasha. La parte del misterio y tragedia me parece muy bien. Es la parte de los principios de su amor y de infancia de Jesse que me parece por alguna razón rebuscada. No me acabó de creerlo, no me pega con Jesse y su personalidad, especialmente lo contado sobre sus abuelos. Suena más como algo sacado de un manual “Como convertir a alguien en un asesino en serie”. ¿Nos lo puso el autor para que conectemos mejor con el personaje? ¿Para despertar nuestra empatía? En mi tuvo efecto contrario.

Para resumir, el libro, especialmente como audiobook, me parece muy interesante, lo recomiendo para pasar un buen rato. Ahora, cuando las tardes se hacen más largas es una elección perfecta. Le doy 4 * de 5.

Os recuerdo que castellano no es mi primer idioma (ni el segundo), así que por favor, paciencia si sigo cometiendo errores. ¡Gracias!

15 Sep 2018

Book Clubs, Tertulias Literarias

Hi All!

As you know I coordinate various Book Clubs in English and occasional literary meetings in Spanish. Below you have the current events. If you have any questions, comment below :) I'm posting them in alphabetical order, to be fair, as I love all our meetings just the same ;) You will always have an updated post here: Book Clubs, Tertulias Literarias

¡Hola a tod@s!
Como sabéis coordino varios Clubes de Lectura en inglés y de vez en cuando algunas tertulias literarias en castellano. Debajo podéis ver el calendario de los eventos actuales. Si tenéis algunas preguntas, no dudéis en comentarmelas. Los pongo en orden alfabético, para ser justa, porque quiero a todas esas reuniones de la misma manera ;) Siempre tendréis una entrada actualizada aquí: Book Clubs, Tertulias Literarias


You can send your ideas for 2019 until October, 31st



That's a new one! Starts in October 2018. Come and join us :)

And we are back in CBA Irun starting from October. Don't miss our meetings!







14 Sep 2018

Lucia Berlin and her "Manual for Cleaning Woman"

ESTE POST ESTÁ EN INGLÉS. MÁS SOBRE EL LIBRO EN CASTELLANO:
Lucia Berlin, "Manual para mujeres de limpieza" en Oh!Libro: https://www.ohlibro.com/manual-para-mujeres-de-la-limpieza/b-113958 (mi conexión 67%)

Lucia Berlin achieved the best-selling author status eleven years after her death. Though she was not a best-seller initially, Lucia was very popular in the literary world. Many compared her works to that of Raymond Carver, Richard Yates or Anton Chejov. Lucia’s noted work and the most praised was the incredible one-page story named, ‘My Jockey’ which also won the Jack London Short Prize for 1985.





She survived childhood abuse and adult alcoholism, an addiction that sent her, something she admitted openly, to “jails, hospitals, psych wards.” She was close friends with artists, poets and musicians (married two jazz players). By her early 30s, she had been divorced three times and had four sons. She worked as a house cleaner, a substitute teacher and a hospital clerk. She put much of her wild, uncontrolled experiences into her stories.

Lucia Berlin was born as Lucia Brown in Juneau, Alaska on Nov 12, 1936. Her father was a mining engineer and her earliest years were spent in the mining camps and towns of Idaho, Kentucky, and Montana. About her mother we don't know much, apart from the fact that she was drinking heavily and the family usually locked her in her room.


Juneau, Alaska

In 1941, Berlin's father went off to the war, and her mother moved Lucia and her younger sister to El Paso, where their grandfather was a prominent, but long gone, dentist. 

Montana, 1941: just before her father went off to the war


Soon after the war, Berlin's father moved the family to Santiago, Chile. She attended cotillions and balls, had her first cigarette lit by Prince Ali Khan (an ex-husband of actress Rita Hay), finished school, and served as the default hostess for the father's society gatherings. 

By the age of 10, Lucia had scoliosis, a painful spinal condition that became lifelong and often necessitated a steel brace.

Lucia Berlin (bottom right), El Paso family reunion, 1952, group shot

In 1955 she enrolled at the University of New Mexico. By now fluent in Spanish, she studied with the novelist Ramon Sender. She soon married and had two sons. By the birth of the second, her sculptor husband was gone. Berlin completed her degree and, still in Albuquerque, met the poet Edward Dorn, a key figure in her life. She also met Dorn's teacher from Black Mountain College, the writer Robert Creeley, and two of his Harvard classmates, Race Newton and Buddy Berlin, both jazz musicians. And she began to write.

NYC,1960

Newton, a pianist, married Lucia in 1958. (Her earliest stories appeared under the name Lucia Newton.) The next year, they and the children moved to a loft in New York. Race worked steadily and the couple became friends with their neighbors Denise Levertov and Mitchell Goodman, as well as other poets and artists including John Altoon, Diane diPrima, and Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones).
In 1961, Berlin and her sons left Newton and New York, and traveled with their friend Buddy Berlin to Mexico, where he became her third husband. Buddy was charismatic and affluent, but he also proved to be an addict. During the years 1962-65, two more sons were born.
By 1968, the Berlins were divorced and Lucia was working on a master's degree at the University of New Mexico. She was employed as a substitute teacher. She never remarried.

Buddy Berlin


She had two sons with her first husband and two more with Buddy. (both pictures were taken in 1963)

The years 1971-94 were spent in Berkeley and Oakland, California. Berlin worked as a high-school teacher, switchboard operator, hospital ward clerk, cleaning woman, and physician's assistant, while writing, raising her four sons, drinking, and finally, prevailing over her alcoholism. She spent much of 1991 and 1992 in Mexico City, where her sister was dying of cancer. Her mother had died in 1986, a probable suicide. In 1994, Edward Dorn brought Berlin to the University of Colorado, and she spent the next six years in Boulder as a visiting writer and, ultimately, associate professor. She became a remarkably popular and beloved teacher, and in just her second year, won the university's award for teaching excellence.
She’d moved from isolation to affluence to detox and back again, and Boulder, Colorado—inundated with massage therapists, extreme athletes, and vegans—was an unlikely place for her to end up. Yet she spent much of the last decade of her life there. First in a clapboard Victorian beneath the red rocks of Dakota Ridge; later, when illness nearly bankrupted her, in a trailer park on the outskirts of the pristine town.


Oakland, 1975

During the Boulder years she thrived in a close community that included Dorn and wife Jennie, Anselm Hollo, and her old pal Bobbie Louise Hawkins. The poet Kenward Elmslie became, like the prose writer Stephen Emerson, a fast friend.

One of her fellow writers, strongly influenced by her, Elizabeth Geoghegan, remembers:
One of Lucia’s lungs was crushed by the scoliosis that tormented her as a child—and she was put on oxygen. I never again saw her without an O2 tank, except after she sent me on my bicycle to Lolita’s Deli for cigarettes. Single smokes sold at twenty cents a pop. She always requested the strongest on offer. Lucky Strikes, Marlboro Reds. I’d buy us each a Camel Light and pedal back to her house. She would slip the breathing tube off and we’d light up, indulging in the only addictive substance either of us could allow ourselves. The fact that her oxygen tank loomed, threatening to blow, only made it more fun. (...)But then there was the way, mid-cigarette, she’d grasp the O2, looping the long tube back over her head and under her nose. A glimmer of panic. Even so, she’d manage a smile, breathlessly.” The last line of the least letter she wrote to Elizabeth was like a premonition: “Message on my tombstone: Breathless.



In 2001, in failing health, she moved to Southern California to be near her sons. She passed away in 2004 in Marina del Rey on the day of her 68th birthday because of the complications caused by Lung cancer.


She published 77 short stories during her lifetime. Most, but not all, were collected in three volumes from Black Sparrow Press: Homesick (1991), So Long (1993), and Where I Live Now (1999). These gathered from previous collections of 1980, 1984, and 1987, and presented newer work.
Early publication commenced when she was twenty-four, in Saul Bellow's journal The Noble Savage and in The New Strand. Later stories appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, New American Writing, and countless smaller magazines. Homesick won an American Book Award.
Berlin worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and most of the 1980s. By the late '80s, her four sons were grown and she had overcome a lifelong problem with alcoholism (her accounts of its horrors, its drunk tanks and DTs and occasional hilarity, occupy a particular corner of her work). Thereafter she remained productive up to the time of her early death.

Although Lucia started to write early by 1960s, she published them only during 1981 due to the encouragement received from poet Ed Dorn.

Through the 1980s, Ms. Berlin’s stories were published by very small presses. In the 1990s, three books of new and selected stories were released by Black Sparrow Press, a midsize independent publisher. In 2013, the writers Stephen Emerson, Barry Gifford and Michael Wolfe, friends and admirers of Ms. Berlin, put together a manuscript of stories in hopes of having it accepted by a high-profile New York publisher. Emily Bell, an editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, saw potential in reissuing the work.

Berlin spoke often of her love for Chejov and his compassion for people, and she once wrote to Mr. Kleinzahler about her connection to Raymond Carver: “I wrote like him before I ever read him. Our ‘styles’ came from our (similar in a way) backgrounds. Don’t show your feelings. Don’t cry. Don’t let anyone know you ... more than exquisite control blahblahblah.”
Although Lucia was losing her health, it is noted that she sold more books during the last two weeks before her death and the sales were also very low. It was only after 11 years of Lucia’s death, her story; ‘A Manual for Cleaning Woman’ became New York Times Best Seller.



The text is a compilation of various sources:



https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/may/18/a-brief-survey-of-the-short-story-lucia-berlin


https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/books/lucia-berlins-roving-rowdy-life-is-reflected-in-a-book-of-her-stories.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/books/review/a-manual-for-cleaning-women-by-lucia-berlin.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article&region=Footer


https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/08/18/smoking-with-lucia/

Lucia Berlin, "Manual para mujeres de limpieza" en Oh!Libro: https://www.ohlibro.com/manual-para-mujeres-de-la-limpieza/b-113958 (mi conexión 67%)

4 Sep 2018

Celsius 2018 Authors – 4: Lisa Tuttle // Autores Celsius 2018 - 4: Lisa Tuttle


Autora: Lisa Tuttle
Título: Futuros Perdidos
Editorial: Gigamesh
Páginas: 224

Sinopsis: "Las muchas vidas de Clare Beckett
Una exploración metafísica del jardín de los senderos que se bifurcan
Clare Beckett es una mujer madura acosada por las consecuencias de una negligencia juvenil, y sueña febrilmente con escapar a un mundo en el que las cosas hubieran sido diferentes. Pero sus sueños son tan vívidos que llega a experimentar otras vidas, futuros perdidos que ponen en entredicho su cordura...
Futuros perdidos propone un viaje de exploración al interior de la conciencia en uno de los vehículos narrativos de mayor calado filosófico: la posibilidad de explorar el árbol probabilístico de la teoría de los muchos mundos y acceder a otras líneas argumentales de nuestra propia vida. "

Author: Lisa Tuttle
Title: Lost Futures
I've read the Spanish edition by Gigamesh

Synopsis: Clare has made choices. She has known loss, disappointment, and the tragedy of her brother's death. But now Clare is about to know the unknowable: her own roads not taken, the lives that could have been hers--and are...
Suddenly Clare's ordinary life has exploded into a journey into other existences: each utterly different, each her own. Trapped in a mental ward in one life, doomed to a failed relationship in another, looking into the eyes of her dead brother in yet another, Clare cannot turn back now. Not back to the familiar confines of her home and job, not back to the man she loves, not back to the sanity she knew. For wherever she turns, another Clare has usurped her existence, forcing her to the ultimate confrontation with madness--and truth...



Seguimos con l@s autor@s de Celsius 2018. Y hoy hablamos de una de las grandes, que recomiendo no solo a los aficionados al género. Lisa Tuttle, autora de fantasía, ciencia ficción y terror, nació en 1952 en Texas y publicó su primer relato en 1971, con tan solo 19 años. En 1974, con 22 años obtuvo el premio John W. Campbell a la mejor autora novel. En 1980 se trasladó a Londres y desde entonces se dedica a la literatura por completo (anteriormente lo compáginaba con el periodismo). Su primera novela, “Refugio del viento”, se publicó en 1981 y fue escrita con nada mas y nada menos que con George R. R. Martin. Lleva publicados 16 novelas, varios libros para niños, antologías y libros de no-ficción.

We continue with Celsius 2018 authors. And today we are talking about one of the great ones, one that I recommend not only to the fans of the genre. Lisa Tuttle, a fantasy, science fiction and horror books author, was born in 1952 in Texas and her first short story was published in 1971, when she was only 19. In 1974, 22 years old, she received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In 1980 she moved to London and since then she has been dedicated only to writing (previously she combined it with journalism). Her first novel, “Windhaven”, was published in 1981 and was written with none else than George R. R. Martin. Up to now she has published 16 novels, various books for children, anthologies and non-fiction books.

Con Lisa Tuttle en Celsius 2018 en Avilés / With Lisa Tuttle at Celsius 2018, in Avilés.


Futuros perdidos”, publicado en España en 2016 por Gigamesh, es una novela de 1992. Es la historia de Clare Beckett, una mujer que nunca sueña y cuando empieza, se lanza directamente (e inconscientemente) en viajes entre los universos paralelos. ¿Cuál es la realidad? ¿Cuál es el sueño? Los lectores lo descubren y se pierden entre diferentes posibilidades junto a la protagonista. ¿Es posible “viajar” entre esas realidades no solo en sueños? ¿Y si uno no sabe volver? ¿O es todo locura y no hay universos paralelos? ¿Está Clare simplemente loca? En cualquier caso, descubrimos pasado de la protagonista, sus demonios personales y no dejamos de preguntarnos si conseguirá salir adelante y dejará que los desagradables recuerdos se queden atrás o se hundirá en ellos reviviendo una y otra vez la misma pesadilla.

Lost Futures”, published in Spain in 2016 by Gigamesh, is a 1992 novel. It's a story of Clare Beckett, a woman who never dreams and once she starts, she launches herself directly (and unconsciously) into parallel universe travel. Which is real? Which is a dream? The readers discover it and get lost in between different possibilities together with the main character. Is it possible to “travel” in between different realities not only in dreams? And if one doesn't know how to get back? Or is everything madness and there are no parallel universes? Is Clare simply crazy? Whatever the case, we find out about her past, about her personal demons and we never stop asking ourselves if she will ever manage moving forward and will allow the unpleasent memories stay behind or if she will drown in them reviving again and again the same nightmare.

La parte original del libro es la manera de explicar la teoría, de presentar la hipótesis física. Sin entrar en muchos detalles, Tuttle explica lo mínimo para que cada lector entienda de que va la historia. El estilo es bastante ágil y hay muchos momentos inquietantes donde podemos sentir el agobio del personaje. La parte psicológica está muy bien profundizada sin perder el ritmo de la novela. Puede resultar difícil empatizar con Clare, pero se entienden sus motivaciones y su sufrimiento muy bien.

The original part of the book is the way Tuttle explains the theory, how she presents the physical hypothesis. Without giving too many details, the author explains the minimum necessary for each reader to understand the story. The style is quite agile and there are many disturbing moments where we can feel how overwhelmed the character is. The psychological part is well enhanced without loosing the rythm of the novel. It can result difficult to emphatize with Clare, but it's easy to understand her motivations and the suffering.

Espero haber despertado vuestra curiosidad tanto por esta maravillosa autora, como por la novela que os he presentado. Y si ya la habéis leído, ¿que os ha parecido?

I hope I've awaken your curiosity for this author and the novel I've talked about. And if you've already known it, what do you think about it?