Good spanish writing?
November 8, 2004 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have recommendations on good (but preferably easy) Spanish-language literature?
posted by swift to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have two recommendations for you off the top of my head...

1) The Kiss of the Spider Woman (El Beso de la Mujer Arana) by Manuel Puig is a fairly easy read because its conversational.

2) Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo is one the classics of Spanish Literature. I dont know what "easy" means for you but here are the opening lines:

Vine a Comala porque me dijeron que acá vivía mi padre, un tal Pedro Páramo. Mi madre me lo dijo. Y yo le prometí que vendría a verlo en cuanto ella muriera. Le apreté sus manos en señal de que lo haría, pues ella estaba por morirse y yo en un plan de prometerlo todo. "No dejes de ir a visitarlo -me recomendó. Se llama de este modo y de este otro. Estoy segura de que le dar gusto conocerte." Entonces no pude hacer otra cosa sino decirle que así lo haría, y de tanto decírselo se lo seguí diciendo aun después de que a mis manos les costó trabajo zafarse de sus manos muertas.
Todavía antes me había dicho:
-No vayas a pedirle nada. Exígele lo nuestro. Lo que estuvo obligado a darme y nunca me dio... El olvido en que nos tuvo, mi hijo, cóbraselo caro.
-Así lo haré, madre.

posted by vacapinta at 3:23 PM on November 8, 2004

In my 4th year of high school Spanish, we read Principito (Little Prince) and Don Quixote, so maybe those would be good? Otherwise those (graphic) novelas people read on the subway are very easy, but i don't know how good they are.
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on November 8, 2004

I loved reading "Como Agua Para Chocolate" (Like Water for Chocolate) in Spanish, as well as watching the movie without subtitles. It's sort of a chick book, though, I guess.

Isabel Allende's books are also good, provided you keep a Spanish-English dictionary nearby for the tricksy bits. Again, probably a bit girly, although I thought "Hija de Fortuna" (Daughter of Fortune) wasn't so much.

Excuse my rusty Spanish if it's wrong, it's been a couple of years and I can't remember much.
posted by tracicle at 5:35 PM on November 8, 2004

Response by poster: Great suggestions, thanks. I'm reading some Neruda and Lorca right now. I'd like to get to where I can read Borges' Ficciones.

The novelas aren't a bad idea, too.
posted by swift at 6:01 PM on November 8, 2004

If you're going to read graphic novels, I really like Blacksad; it's kind of hard-boiled-with-furries, but done in a way that people who don't like furries can get. I've only read it in French, though, so I don't know about the Spanish level.
posted by Jeanne at 6:25 PM on November 8, 2004

It's kids stuff, but the Papelucho books by Marcela Paz are probly a good place to build up your chops, and a lot of fun, too.

You want good, not-so-easy? Garcia Marquez's "Cronica de Una Muerte Anunciada" is amazing, and quite short. His "Cien Años de Soledad" is a must.

Vargas Llosa's "La Ciudad y Los Perros" and "La Tia Julia y el Escribidor" are highly recomended, though a bit harder.

And anything by Cortazar will blow your mind. Look for "Historias de Cronopios y Famas", a collection of surreal short-short stories everybody should keep in their pocket at al times. Do yourself a favor and read "Conducta en Los Velorios".

And Borges, of course. Anything at all.
posted by signal at 6:37 PM on November 8, 2004

I will second "Como agua para chocolate" (Esquivel) and "Cronica de una muerte anunciada" (Garcia Marquez).

Some of the stories we studied in my Spanish Lit classes (intermediate undergrad level, I think) during the semester I took in Spain included "San Manuel Bueno, martir" by Miguel de Unamuno (my small paperback copy has it at about 40 pages), "Requiem por un campesino espanol" by Ramon J. Sender (at 100 pages), and "La familia de Pascual Duarte" by Camilo Jose Cela (at 185 pages).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez has a collection of short stories called "Doce cuentos peregrinos" that I don't remember having too hard a time with. His novel "Del amor y otros demonios" is a good read, and also short. He does use hard/archaic words so I have to use a dictionary anytime I work through him in the original.
posted by Melinika at 7:46 PM on November 8, 2004

Benedetti is also really good, and his poetry is more accesible than Neruda or Lorca.
posted by signal at 3:45 AM on November 9, 2004

Antonio Machado - "Campos de Castilla" (poetry) The "Proverbios y Cantares" section should be very rewarding. It is a treaty of practical philoshophy broken down into tiny nuggets that are relatively easy to decypher ... and then the larger, often incredibly complex meaning willl hit you.

Here are two samples (one easy one hard?)

"Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar."

"Nunca perseguí la gloria
ni dejar en la memoria
de los hombres mi canción;
yo amo los mundos sutiles,
ingrávidos y gentiles
como pompas de jabón.
Me gusta verlos pintarse
de sol y grana, volar
bajo el cielo azul, temblar
súbitamente y quebrarse."
posted by magullo at 5:53 AM on November 9, 2004

And anything by Cortazar will blow your mind.

If you feel up to it, check out Cortázar's novel Rayuela (Hopscotch) one of the all-time great bohemian novels. The idea of the title "hopscotch" is that at the end of each chapter a different non-sequential chapter is indicated; you can follow the indicated chapters, read it sequentially or simply jump around the different chapters (that's how I first read it). Apart from that device, the novel is extremely entertaining and well written. Julio has a great sense of humor.

The rest of Signal's suggestions are also excellent, especially Cien años de soledad. A classic in any language. Marquez's short stories are great as well if you like a little Faulkner mixed with your magic realism.

Vacapinta also mentioned Juan Rulfo's great novel, his short stories are really interesting as well.

The easiest Borges to read, in my opinion, is La Historia Universal de la Infamia. But don't be shy about reading all of Borges' work in Spanish, just have a dictionary nearby. The majority of his stories are only a page and a half...!
posted by sic at 8:30 AM on November 9, 2004

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