Life and Fiction

Reading is a pleasure for many of us. What kind of readings do you enjoy the most? It may depend on the time of the day, the day of the week, the mood you’re in, the season of the year. Who knows what other things may help you in deciding what to read.

Some people like to read newspapers, specialized articles in magazines, with the intention of being informed. These writings present facts and events rather than the author’s imagination as in an imaginative narration. Reading those types of texts is still a pleasure, but it is a pleasure with the purpose of information. We could then classify those writings as non-fiction.

Other readers prefer to read fiction, that is, works of imaginative narration, especially in prose form.  Short stories are works in this area. They concentrate for example in a flash, a moment with significance.  How short should be a short story? They have no set length, it depends on the author and the content. They focus on an incident and do not include many characters. Their objective is to create an effect on the reader.

Only to mention some of the best: J.L. Borges, Machado de Assis, E. A. Poe, A. Chekhov… I surely could mention many:  by country, by era, by style, but mentioning all the famous writers who have been masters in this art would be almost impossible. Maybe you can mention your own favorites in a comment at the end of this post… It would be a great idea!

E.A. Poe

Portait of Edgar Allan Poe

But how about telling you about independent authors who have masterfully written a collection of short stories?

If you speak Spanish and like to read stories full of sensibility and and some of them with a delicate eroticism that evoke intense memories creating a special atmosphere, then you may want to read “Or Noir y otros cuentos” from Silvia Amador Pérez de Castro.

You can find it here:

Amazon.com: “Or noir y otros cuentos”

The author also included some short and witty writings where she displays her fine humor playing with language. My favorite stories are “El contrabajo”, “La lluvia” y “Or noir”. I can assure you that you will enjoy her short stories on human nature.

What is human nature, if we are not referring to the biological part in us? All those “states” difficult to describe in words, but that we all have experienced: love, distress, sadness, infatuation, mourning, enthusiasm…    All those strong feelings that give taste to life are depicted in “El Sabor de la Vida” from the writer and literature professor, Ernesto Cisneros Rivera. I highly recommend the compilation of short stories.

You can find it here: Lulu Publishing: Libros de Ernie

He writes in a sensible and elegant manner about men and women in a crucial point of their lives. He uses the perfect word in every context, the perfect language in every situation. With perfect I mean the most appropriate, the ideal choice, that not always has to be nice.  “Without putting a leaf in front of his mouth”, a picturesque German saying, he undresses the humans and leaves their raw feelings and souls.  His stories are like flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and even spicy. I leave to you to discover the taste. My favorites are all of them!

In fiction, one of the most popular sub-genres are novels. To continue with the idea of flavors and taste, there are novels for every taste. We can find adventure novels, the ones I loved to read when I was a kid. Those that made us combat our brothers or sisters with a wooden, (no, I’m not that old, we had plastic!) sword and made us dream of hidden treasures and dangerous places. Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Emilio Salgari… Nowadays we find a wide selection of children literature and young adult fiction, a genre that has been spreading like fire. Especially all those vampire love novels and teen novels have gained an enormous popularity, and sometimes not only with the young adults…    I have to confess that I read and enjoyed all of the Harry Potter books, yes! I love the language, the settings and school life in Hogwarts, with my favorite teacher, Professor Minerva McGonagall.

McGonagall

Professor McGonagall

You may like to read literary fiction, historical fiction, experimental fiction, comic novels, erotic novels, love stories or crime stories. In this last genre you may have enjoyed the British crime stories of the “Lady of Crime”, Agatha Christie, with her unforgettable characters Mr. Hercule Poirot and Ms. Marple. Some of you may prefer a more realistic approach to crime and may choose Scandinavian authors, like Henning Mankell or Jo Nesbø, among others. A very popular trilogy is the one from Stieg Larsson “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl who played with Fire” and “The Girl who kicked the Hornets’ Nest”. Very dark and often brutal in their descriptions, but if you like this type of literature, you will not be able to put the books away.

I think that you can find good criminal authors from different countries and in every language.

Erotic novels have become very popular though they are not new. All along the centuries there have been excellent writers. We can find some as ancient as the Greek and Romans, some in the Renaissance, like Bocaccio with his Decameron.  Shakespeare also wrote some erotic poems like Venus and Adonis. I could continue with the list, but I have to specify that erotic literature is not porn. There are good quality erotic writings as I mentioned before. Two years ago an erotic novel invaded the world market and not precisely because of its quality. I saw everywhere teenagers!, young, middle and elderly women with the famous “Grey” books in their hands. Some of us, starting writers, wish for the luck E.L. James had. This publicity had the bad side effect of creating a false impression on possible readers that independent, or amateur writers are not qualitative good… Bad for us!

Real lives and stories are the inspiration of biographical or autobiographical creations, while others only intend to make you believe that the main characters really exist by showing you the imaginary, but plausible life of a character.

I come now closer to novels that in a way portrait life, glamorous or simple, cruel or funny, where the characters maybe successful or have broken existences. However, they go through situations that force them to act in one or another way. They may dodge the problems they encounter or they may fight against them. There are tons and tons of novels describing, presenting, showing us other lives and as readers, we like to submerge for an instant into the lives of the characters in our book. We may judge them, find them abominable, adorable, or we may simply shrug at their acts, but we love to be a little voyeuristic.

Having been around for a while, having experienced deep emotions, having observed and having listened to others, I started shaping the characters and the plot of my novels. The first one published last August is “El Pacto”. It is like a picture of modern life: fast paced, at first glance maybe a little shallow, glamorous, exciting, with one or two humorous touches… It’s like a story in a film or a TV show, maybe a little bit like a “telenovela”. The novel starts in an idyllic location, an island in the Caribbean during the Summer holidays of two sisters and their two best friends. On the island they realize that life can change as fast a the weather and they get into a conflict that rises up like a tropical storm. Two of them have to find an adequate solution to the conflict and follow the advice of a woman who reads them their future using cards… Is it going to work? Are our experiences predefined by our destiny? Can we put our decisions in the hands of destiny? Sometimes we get to the point where important decisions have to be made. Are we sure that the decision we make will be the right one? Based on love, friendship, family values, opportunities, deceptions, illusions, we try guide our life in one or another way, like the characters in the book. Sometimes you act in a certain way, perfectly knowing that it will only cause trouble…    If you want to be a little voyeuristic and know what happens in the novel, you can read “El Pacto” and draw your own conclusions.

El Pacto

El Pacto – Tonantzin Martínez Alor

You can order it on Amazon.com or Lulu.com.

Afterwards you can comment either here or on Amazon.

Till next week with another interesting topic!

 

 

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Wallflowers and friends

Succumbing to my daughter’s insistence, I finally started reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” from Stephen Chbosky. I first asked her, if it was a teeny reading or a young adult novel and who the author was. She told me that it was a book about coming-of-age, but that it should be interesting for all ages. She assured me that it wasn’t only about high school and parties.
Chbosky is an american screenplay writer and this was his first novel.  He also wrote the screenplay and directed the film with the same name:
I must say that I really enjoyed the book and found some interesting thoughts in it. The main character calls himself Charlie and writes letters to an unknown friend telling him about his everyday experiences during his first high school year. He is a lonely boy who has a hard time making acquaintances  and prefers to observe and think rather than take part in life.    “He’s a wallflower… You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”

His favorite subject is English literature and his teacher is one of the adults he starts talking to. His teacher tells him that “Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.” and that he should think less and act more.  So Charlie decides to start living and he manages to make two very good friends and other acquaintances.  He shares one similar and dramatic experience that occurred during his childhood with his best girlfriend. This bad experience has a very big influence in the ways they interact with their peers and adults. The book shows the value of having good friends and the importance of knowing how to keep them. 

Besides friendship, love is one of the other major topics that goes hand in hand with sexuality in those years. One of the interesting quotes regarding love is “Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we’re nothing”; – “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

It also shows the problems not only young people have to deal with such as drugs, dysfunctional families, dishonesty and cheating among others.  Although the topics may sound hard and sometimes cruel, this is the way life is and Charlie has a very charismatic way of telling about the events that affect him.  As one of the quotes in the book: “This moment will just be another story someday.”  And also“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” 

The book ends with Charlie finishing his first year of high school having made some good friends and with good intentions of participating in life.

After having spent an excellent Friday evening with my dearest friends and having gotten so many e-mails, SMS’ and posts on FB, I can only agree with the book and the importance of having good friends that may or may not be “forever”.