No one writes to the Colonel, by Gabriel García Márquez

41059627 Set in the decaying Colombian town of Macondo, the Colonel is scraping together the money for food and medicine. It is the Colonel’s rooster that gives him hope for a better future as it has become a symbol of defiance in the face of despair.

Don’t know what happened last week -college, more likely- but I completely forgot to publish here. Well, it’s not like someone is reading…

Anyway…

The Colonel is waiting for a letter. He’s been waiting for this letter for years, and will probably wait for many more… Or maybe not, it could arrive any day, now.

This letter, if arrived, would mean they’d asigned him, finally, a pension for his services in the army. This letter would mean that he could, finally, have a more dignified life, a less desperate economic situation for his ill wife and himself. For now, all he has is his endless patience, and a rooster. This rooster belonged to his deceased son, and it’s promised to make him, and many other people, a fortune in the cockfighting ring, in some months from now. So he waits, just a few more weeks and all his problem will be solved…

This short novel reminded me a lot of the movie Zama (adapted from the homonym novel by Antonio Di Benedetto*), not because of the plot, but because it depicts the sloth slow  movement of bureaucracy. Slow to the point of hopelessness. And for being such a short novel, it really gave me a lot to despair.

*which I haven’t read, but I hope I will.

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Helix, by Sara’s Girl

Seven months after the end of the war, Harry is feeling lost. Fortunately, he is about to be offered an unexpected and sparkling chance to find himself again.

Because I’m still such a tourist in the fanfic world, I thought it would be better for me to follow some recommendations, instead of diving into the pool not knowing yet how to stay afloat. So, I joined a “book club” group at Facebook, and read the August list, which included this work.

In this fic, Harry, Ron and Hermione are back to school for their last year of education, after spending the summer helping to rebuild the ruins left by the Battle of Hogwarts. And the same did Draco Malfoy, who during the process of reconstruction and the first months of school had detached himself from everyone and, to Harry’s eyes, seemed to merely exist, not caring for much. This troubles Harry and he wants to approach to him, talk to him, but doesn’t know how. The opportunity arises when, after an incident that drove to a bit of a fight during a Potions class, McGonagall reprimands them both and put them in detention. Their punish consists in taking care of some very delicate magical snails and make sure they mate and lay their eggs. The mating process happens only during the frozen nights of december, in the proximity of the lake, and they must spend practically the entire month babysitting these creatures, learning to coexist together like adults.

This is an advent fiction, so everything happens in 25 or so days. It was a very fun concept, and a very entertaining reading, but I couldn’t entirely let pass the notion that in less than 25 days, they basically fall in love and Harry even fantasizes with them moving in together. I mean… I could understand that they might have an underlying attraction or feelings for each other and all those days spent together moved things forward, but they were just beginning to acknowledge their feelings when Harry was basically dreaming of marrying Draco. Whoa, dude, slow down.

Anyway… Despite that,  I did really like and enjoy this fic so very much, and do recommend it. The story is very heartwarming and fluffy and angsty and smutty and all the good things. It also has a lot of Hagrid, which is much appreciated, and even a glimpse of Neville/Luna, which was cute. It can be read and downloaded here

Oh! Unusual mandatory pet: Solomon, the frost snail. And about that: at the end of the month, when there were discussions about the selected fics, it was brought up by the admin that this author in particular seems to be fond of unusual pets, so that would explain why seemed to be one in every single thing I read, although the first one I noticed was written by a different author.

The Claiming of Grimmauld Place, by bixgirl1

When Grimmauld Place begins fighting against Harry’s ownership of it, he decides he needs help to train the historic home — but little does he expect that it’ll be Malfoy who’s most suitable for the challenge. However, as Malfoy and Harry get closer, Harry comes to understand that expectations aren’t always the best path by which to guide his heart — and in the process learns just what is needed to make a house a home.

I honestly don’t remember if the idea of magical sentient houses is something that is canon for the Harry Potter universe, but to me it made total sense and if it isn’t, I really wish it were. It also made total sense the fact that Harry was completely clueless about it.

Another cool idea, that never crossed my mind before (which probably explains why I should just read and never write), was taking Harry out of his Auror job and putting him as DADA teacher, which, canonically, is something we know he does very good. I never really felt the Auror thing, you know? But then, I don’t get why anyone would want  to be a cop in our muggle reality, either, so…

I particularly enjoyed the presence of Draco’s Slytherin friends, and the idea of all of them turning into decent people is really heartwarming, although I’m not so sure about how on or off character they’re portrayed. But if Draco gets a redemption arc, why not everybody else? Side note to self: I must reread the series ASAP. It’s been years since I read the last book, and I never did a proper binge-reading, from 1 to 7. And, as I realized when I read PoA a couple of years ago, I’m afraid that my book memories were mostly replaced by movie memories… Additionally, after reading little else other than fanfics in the last couple of months, I don’t know what’s what anymore.

This fic also had something that I thought it was rather odd, but then, as I kept reading other works, seems to be a recurrent trope: unusual pets. I don’t know if maybe is that the authors were following certain prompts, and the prompters like to have some fun at their expense, or just want to add them for comedy value, but seriously though, what a strange practice. In this case, there is Paul, Harry’s garden gnome, and Francis, Draco’s *magical* Galápagos tortoise (what?) (well, yes, apparently a pet passed from one generation to the other) (really? no peacocks, though?)

This was SUPER FUN! The author did a great job and it’s a very enojoyable reading, with healthy doses of comedy, smut, fluff, angst… All what a girl wants. My first Drarry ever and I just understand everything now. This fic sent me down into a spiral of Drarry that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave. Nor that I’d want to… Drarry for life!

This fic can be read and/or downloaded here

Anne of the Island, by L. M. Montgomery

40946102New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With her old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and her frivolous new friend Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises . . . including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson. But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide whether she’s ready for love. (from Goodreads)

I don’t think this synopsis left much out, so I guess I don’t have much to say?

After watching Anne with an E’s second season, I was left -again- with so much eagerness of Anne that I resumed my reading of the series.

For many many years, this was the only book I had access to. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first read it, but I guess not older than 12, probably younger. And I read it over and over again, because I had such a girl-crush on Anne! She seemed to me soooo cool! She had red hair, which was something I longed for so much when I was a kid, AND she was going to college! On her own! And was living with her friends! And three cats! Literally, the girl had everything I ever wanted (and kind of, sort of, may be, I still want).

This book was, I believe, the first glimpse I had of what college life could be like, and I couldn’t wait to be of age! Little did I know how different college life would be for me xD

It’s been AGES since the last time I read it, so it was quite a peculiar experience. On one hand, there were parts I had, more or less, printed by fire on my mind. I knew that this, this and this happened. On the other hand, there were so many things I didn’t remember AT ALL, but, while reading, I immediately knew that it was a path that I had walked many times before.

For all of these reasons, this is, and probably forever will be, my favorite book in the series.  

Isolation, by Bex-chan

18485142He can’t leave the room. Her room. And it’s all the Order’s fault. Confined to a small space with only the Mudblood for company, something’s going to give. Maybe his sanity. Maybe not.

“There,” she spat. “Now your Blood’s filthy too!”

Post Half-Blood Prince. Ron and Harry are Horcrux hunting and Hermione has been left at Hogwarts to help the Order make it safe for the other students. Draco is forced by Snape to stay in Hogwarts for his own protection, but he can’t leave the room he is given; Granger’s room. Hermione is the only student trusted with this information, so she and Malfoy share the small space, and Draco tries to avoid insanity as he becomes increasingly isolated with only the Mudblood for company. Something’s going to give… (from Goodreads)

Well… This launches a whole new category that I was not expecting at all: fanfiction.

Back in the day, when I was still in highschool, I might have read my share of fanfiction, but not much, honestly. I have no particular memory of reading anything online, and the only one I almost vividly remember was a weird work that was PRINTED (as, in the format of an actual BOOK) that was in the school’s library. The librarian practically SWORE that was an advanced copy of Order of the Phoenix. Despite that our 15 years-old selves knew better than that, my best friend and I checked it out anyway, just to immerse ourselves in the most ridiculous thing we have ever read, and I wish I’d remember the author or anything, to look that up again. But, other than that, my “fanfic” consumption was mostly visual, through the fanart embodiment of it.

During this winter-break from college I can’t say I used my time very productibly, but I did accomplished to binge some series and podcasts, these last all related to Harry Potter. Two of them are entirely about fanfiction: Potterotica (the name says it all) and Fanatical Fics and where to find them, and I highly recommend both of them.

Obviously, I got over-excited and wanted to dive into this -to me- unknown genre, which I did, building my path mostly through recommendations.

Isolation was my first, which was quite a tour de force. According to Goodreads (because, yes, apparently many of the largest fanfics are listed in Goodreads, and I couldn’t be more elated about that), it has over 1000 pages, and I read the whole thing in about 4 days, staying up late until 3am, avoiding any other type of activity and doing other things like that. I got committed to this new thing.

As the synopsis states, this fic works as an alternative to Deathly Hallows in which Hermione stays in Hogwarts. And, apparently, for being head girl she gets to have basically her own apartment, instead of sleeping in Gryffindor’s Tower. She’s forced to share it with Draco, who’s kept hidden and captive in order to hide him from Voldemort, who wants to kill him for not accomplishing the assassination of Dumbledore. Of course, it’s a Dramione fic, so you all know how that’s supposed to end, eventually, but it was a slow build up to that point. They do not start well, obviously. Draco is basically going insane from his incarceration, and Hermione’s not very happy about having to share her space with her bully. Besides, she’s also exhausted from hours of library research, trying to find something about horcruxes to help Harry and Ron’s clandestine work. None of them is going through their best time, so…  Angst galore! At some point the plotline merges, more or less, with what actually happens in Deathly Hallows, Hogwarts’ Battle and all, with some modifications here and there due the changes already inserted in the fic. That was actually very interesting.

Even though I’m very conflicted with the trope of falling in love with your bully, at least the author made a believable redemption arc for Draco, in a way that he gradually gets “enlightened” and he struggles a lot with his old-beliefs and his new reality and such things. Despite this, I enjoyed every bit of it, as I’m very easily prone to suspend my disbelief while reading fanfic, blind to whatever redflag I would remark in other types of fictions.

You can read this fic here.

Duo, by Colette

duo-colette-d_nq_np_371125-mla25373309685_022017-fA wedded couple recently arrived to what I understand to be some sort of country house, in Southern France. When everything that seemed to be worrisome were some works of house maintenance and some business affairs, give a quick turn when the husband found out his wife was unfaithful to him with one of his business associates. From that point on, predictably, things will never be back to what they once were.

The husband, deeply hurt and disappointed, shuts himself down, struggling with the news and trying to be in control of his actions, doubting if he wants to really know what actually happened or not. The wife, plotting and measuring every step, wondering how much she must or mustn’t say to avoid making things even worse, and trying to make peace for the remaining days ahead of them in their vacation. The stormy weather doesn’t help at all, as it confined them inside the house, with little to do.

Oppressive and mind wearying, the situation is unbearable for both of them.

Another short novel by Colette, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much, probably because the subject had little to be joyful about.

Un novelista en el Museo del Prado, by Manuel Mujica Láinez

40701744This is such an entertaining little book. The premise is very simple: an hypothetical novelist is, somehow, able to stay at the Prado Museum once its doors are closed, and he becomes the only witness to the antics the artworks get into during the night, when the characters that live in the paintings are able to leave their canvases and the sculptures their bases. From that point on, the stories are marvellous! Thanks to this novelist, we became spectators of an “elegance pageant”, of a very populated reunion of all the virgins and madonnas, of a “Sleeping Beauty” pantomime, and some very clueless group of lovers that, thinking they were being embarked to the Kythira island, were actually going in Charon’s boat to the Underworld, just to name a few of these adventures.

Sometimes, the characters behave like the people they’re representing, sometimes like the people who modeled to the artists. Sometimes they are fully aware of their identity, sometimes they have completely forgot who they were suppose to be; either way, they love to brag about the artist who painted them, specially if was one of the masters.

I highly recommend to read these stories with an art history or museum catalogue at hand, to have a more comprehensive reading, if one’s not familiar with some of this artworks.

Next time I’ll visit any museum, I’ll make up my own stories.