Sunday, June 24, 2007

Good Read

I picked up a book at the book fair in Madrid called Ladrones de tinta. It’s sort of a mystery novel where the hero is contracted by Cervantes’s editor to discover the identity of Avellaneda. Along the way he rubs shoulders with pretty much every heavy hitter in Madrid circa 1614: Lope, Quevedo, Tirso, Góngora and myriad others, high and low.

Occasionally the book feels like it’s trying too hard; every time the hero meets a literary icon, said icon is in the middle of writing one of his iconic works and the hero just happens to make a key suggestion (such as the entire plot of Fuenteovejuna). However, the book is lively, and paints a vivid picture of Madrid in the Golden Age, complete with the sights, sounds, and smells of the streets, the grooming habits of the people, and a very vivid description of how to treat hemorrhoids.

One small quibble: I don’t think a chapter goes by without some mention of urination; apparently bachelors in Golden Age Madrid had a habit of forgetting to empty their chamber pots. All that aside, the book was loads of fun and I recommend it for your summer enjoyment.

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