Books Burn Badly – Manuel Rivas

15 Nov

On 19 August 1936 Hercules the boxer stands on the quayside at Coruña and watches Fascist soldiers piling up books and setting them alight. With this moment a young carefree group of friends are transformed into a broken generation.

Out of this incident during the early months of Spain’s tragic civil war, Manuel Rivas weaves a colourful tapestry of stories and unforgettable characters to create a panorama of twentieth-century Spanish history. For it is not only the lives of Hercules the boxer and his friends that are tainted by the unending conflict, but also those of a young washerwoman who sees souls in the clouded river water and the stammering son of a judge who uncovers his father’s hidden library.

As the singed pages fly away on the breeze, their stories live on in the minds of their readers.

6a00e5535ff83b88330120a6223be2970b-500wiRemember what Holando used to say about the French astronomer who only ate spiders?  We can’t see them because they are spinning with our eyes, with the threads of light.  If we eat them we might see the stars.

With my feet losing all feeling I forgot to mention this book is a tapestry of lives, there’s so much going on in each short vignette. The book has that lazy, hazy heat type of feel that serves Spanish speaking authors so well.

Each page feels crammed with oodles of detailed back story, Rivas manages to put into words some rich, lyrical images, thickly layered like sumptuous chocolate sauce on chocolate cake.  Read it and languish in the good and bad of this evocative period of history.


Posted by on 15/11/2013 in Fiction, Vlog


Tags: , , , ,

29 responses to “Books Burn Badly – Manuel Rivas

  1. renxkyoko

    15/11/2013 at 19:06

    Wow ! real time, real person ! ! Nice.


    • Ste J

      15/11/2013 at 19:08

      Haha, thanks, I aim to please even if it means freezing my socks off.


  2. Christina ~

    15/11/2013 at 19:39

    Ah, my dearest sir…you have succeeded (once again) with your second Vlog to share your beguiling charm and charisma in your thoroughly enticing description of this book….which as usual has induced me to add it closer to the top of my TBR list! As always… you speak of books in such a manner so as to make me wish I had chosen the “one” you have most recently spoken of to be my current read. Sigh….such a problem to have… and one I hope only increases…. xxxxxx


    • Ste J

      15/11/2013 at 20:06

      Thoroughly fantabulous sentiments my dear. I am always happy to complicate your book reading life and will continue to do so whether you like it or not. I have many other choices that can be elevated further up your list as well, With the excitement and enthusiasm with which some of my future choices will exude will only increase your problems, I like to tease you with such things. I would recommend you read this next but then I will say that about quite a few of the books in your next choices pile…which I shall be watching very closely…xxxxxx


  3. RoSy

    15/11/2013 at 20:49

    I am so loving your vlogs!

    LOL on smelling the book. And – on the quick peace out at the end because of the temps. Too cold for me too. Brrr…

    BTW – that book looks like a thick one. Thick books scare me. Thick books with small print scare me more. And – thick books with small print & no pictures – even more-so. I guess you could say that I’m somewhat bibliophobic. Nice cover though 🙂


    • Ste J

      15/11/2013 at 22:18

      Ah, RoSy you do make me smile, I have a book or two with pictures in and a smattering of words which may be right up your street! I shall get on to reviewing them soon.

      I wanted to block in a local coffee shop but the microphone was picking up to much background noise so I ended up going feral in the park lol. I hope to be warmer next time for a longer and possibly better structured ramble…I hope to nail the way I do it within the next post or two and then I can get on with wowing you some more…hopefully.


  4. Claire 'Word by Word'

    15/11/2013 at 23:57

    Wonderful review and so dedicated of you to change location and persevere outside in the cold. I hadn’t heard of this book but it sounds like a wonderful read, you are in the right place to be getting through some semi-chunksters!


    • Ste J

      16/11/2013 at 09:23

      About halfway through recording, I realised it wasn’t very pleasant out, the wind was more piercing than I thought and I was a bit grumpy walking back home lol. Still, thoughts of the book warmed me up with its sunny climate and wonderful words.


      • Claire 'Word by Word'

        16/11/2013 at 09:36

        And never forget there is an audience there too, enjoying and appreciating your well appointed words, I’m sure that thought would warm you up 🙂


        • Ste J

          16/11/2013 at 09:37

          Of course, you wonderful people are always at the forefront of my mind…all warm in your houses enjoying my discomfort hehe.


  5. Chatty Owl

    16/11/2013 at 03:21

    Oh hello there, a vlog! That’s exciting.

    Thanks for doing this. It looks like a book I would gladly read.


    • Ste J

      16/11/2013 at 09:00

      I’m mixing things up these days with vlogs, although whether that is a good selling point is yet to be decided! It is a good literary book but not on a level with the classics.


  6. thejerseygal®™

    16/11/2013 at 07:23

    I think the vivid imagery this book woukd make it a great read, but the history aspect adds another layer for the author to entice our minds.
    Nice video, even with the kid shouting in the background, and you looked a wee bit cold. Is it my move again, time for another video? Taking my daughter to an indoor funplex today, maybe I’ll vid some of that, or the library.


    • Ste J

      16/11/2013 at 09:18

      I didn’t know much about the Spanish Civil War so it was good to be educated that way, with good words it just makes it so much better to learn.

      It was a bit bit parky out I must admit, the random kids were quiet until I’d started, it’s like people are programmed to be louder when I start to record. Had that not been the case I would have recorded one in a nice coffee shop. Libraries are good, have you seen Letizia’s latest post, you’ll like that methinks…


      • thejerseygal®™

        16/11/2013 at 09:29

        Yes to both paragraphs! Lol
        Thanks for the link, I am following now! That was a beautifully worded post!


  7. Al

    16/11/2013 at 08:03

    It certainly looked cold there. One of the problems of doing an outside broadcast. An interesting looking read, although not of my ilk. Mind you, at this moment I have no idea what my ilk is. I have read so many books of so many different genres of late that I have confused myself as which genre I prefer now,.


    • Ste J

      16/11/2013 at 09:24

      So by your logic it is probably right up your street lol. Today, ironically, is a cool but sunny day and would have been great to do a vlog at the park…how I suffer for my art.


      • Al

        16/11/2013 at 09:33

        It’s always the way


  8. Letizia

    16/11/2013 at 15:29

    Love the vlog, your wit and charming personality live and in person, wonderful! I hadn’t heard of this book before so will pick it up for sure (especially as it has a nice heft and smell…. very important, I agree!). Stay warm!


    • Ste J

      17/11/2013 at 10:27

      Thank you! I feel I have yet to go in depth with a book like I do in my written reviews but I am hoping to build up to that. I would be better blogging right after I’d finished a supremely awesome book…now I just have to pick the right one….


  9. nancyrae4

    17/11/2013 at 16:23

    Sounds like a fascinating book but, again, I am unable to open the vlog. Ugh. Must be my pc, my browser – who in heck knows? Otherwise, thanks for your wonderful reviews.


    • Ste J

      17/11/2013 at 16:37

      I’m not sure why you’re having a problem, it is a shame though. I will see if there is anything I can do to sort it from my end. More non vlog reviews are on the pipeline as well. Many more!


  10. tomrobinsonz

    20/11/2013 at 11:55

    Another video review? How the chuff did I miss this??


    • Ste J

      20/11/2013 at 11:57

      I will keep you informed in the future mate…I do like to keep you on your toes though!


  11. LuAnn

    21/11/2013 at 10:45

    Another weighty book to add to my ever-growing list, thanks to you. It does look a bit chilly there, which you should be accustomed to by now I would think. 😉 Hope you are having the bestest time in WA. 🙂


    • Ste J

      23/11/2013 at 09:00

      it was extremely cold that day…in fact that was take 3 after all the wind and annoying people had calmed down a bit. I suffer for my art lol. It was good to mix it up though. It seems milder than England here except for when the mad winds come in which is thankfully very rare at the moment. I am having a great time here…there are bookshops not a mile or two from my abode…it’s a nice walk, when those aforementioned winds aren’t lurking.


      • LuAnn

        23/11/2013 at 21:17

        I have never been to England but imagined it would be rather cold in the winter. I lived in Yellowstone National Park for a couple of years and the winters were cold, but it was normally sunny with no wind. Great weather for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Seriously, I hope you are having an awesome time in WA. 🙂


        • Ste J

          24/11/2013 at 20:15

          I shall be doing more US posts so I won’t spoil my musings just yet but yes I am having a fun time, it helps to have my muse so close as well…the post ideas are coming quicker than I can write them down…which is new and just fine with me!



Tell me stuff...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: