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.

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Miniatures: the very short fiction of John Scalzi, by John Scalzi

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The ex-planet Pluto has a few choice words about being thrown out of the solar system. A listing of alternate histories tells you all the various ways Hitler has died. A lawyer sues an interplanetary union for dangerous working conditions. And four artificial intelligences explain, in increasingly worrying detail, how they plan not to destroy humanity. (from Goodreads)

This book was recommended to me by Jennifer in a swap. She recommended it so HARD and with such passion and enthusiasm that totally convinced me that I had to read it. Once I told her this, she was super kind and she sent it to me.

This is a comedy book. And this is also a science fiction book. Like I said earlier, sci-fi is far from being familiar to me, so I’d like to get a little more into it. If all sci-fi books are like this one, that won’t be a problem at all!

Each one of these short stories (there are more than the four summarized in the Goodreads’ synopsis) is presented by Scalzi himself, giving a little context,  and they’re not exactly narrated, is more like they’re acted. Some stories have several characters, so at times there’s a whole bunch of different actors.  

There’s no story I didn’t like, they all made me laugh! If I had to choose a favorite, that would be “Pluto tells all”. Pluto was always my favorite planet (thanks to Sailor Moon), so I’m still resentful that they kicked it out of the solar system. But, apparently, as it explains in this story, it took it pretty well.

So, as Jen did first, is my duty now to recommend this book. It really won’t took more than a couple of hours of your time (I really wish it were longer) and you won’t regret it.

The Confessions of Dorian Gray: The Complete Series One and Two, by Simon Barnard et al

20695672“To have written such a book was nothing… to convince the world it was a work of fiction was a triumph!”

Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic story of hedonism and corruption, The Confessions of Dorian Gray imagines a world where Dorian Gray was real, and his friendship with Oscar Wilde once spawned the notorious novel. (from Goodreads)

I got this audiobook because is starred by one of Versailles’ main actors and I was feeling blue after the end of the second season. “I NEED MORE” was my basic thought. And it fulfilled this need, so that was good.

I really enjoyed listening to it. It takes Wilde’s character and gives him so many more stories! I liked their approach, the “cameos” from other well known literary characters and how they adapted Gray’s personality to different eras (they brought him up to the 21st century!). It really gave me second thoughts about my wish to live forever…

I’m looking forward to listen to the remaining stories!

Painé y Juan Cruz, by María Cristina Casadei

34328679Painé and Juan Cruz have a lot of things in common. They were born on the same day and both are very loved by their parents. Painé is mapuche*, Juan Cruz is criollo**. They met one morning in which they both disobeyed their parents and went to play near the railways. Pretty much since the first moment they become friends and leave on an adventure, accompanied by a lost puma cub, meeting a lot of new people and exploring the natural surroundings.

This is a children’s book lent by a friend during my vacations. She meant to show me the beautiful illustrations it has, but I went on and read it. It’s a great book I believe for kids living and growing up in Rio Negro, the province my friend is from and where I spent my summer vacations. It shows a bit of the different cultural background that compose today’s population in the area, and talks about the particular environment in the region, teaching kids to value and respect their historical and natural backgrounds.

* a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina

** Latin Americans who are of full or near full pre-colonial Spanish descent, distinguishing them from both multi-racial Latin Americans and Latin Americans of post-colonial (and not necessarily Spanish) European immigrant origin.

Hogwarts, An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, by J. K. Rowling

31538647Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle. . . all at the turn of a page. (from Goodreads)

I knew beforehand that this book compiles some of Rowling’s writings from Pottermore, which I had already read. What I wasn’t expecting was the whole “that Simpson’s episode hosted by Troy McClure where he introduces excerpts from previous episodes”* vibe. So bad that it’s good. It’s super short also, so I read it one day while commuting, it’s great to kill some time.

*S07E10

 

Complete Short Fiction, by Virginia Woolf

28449444I think there’s not much to say about this. Talking about each piece would be a never ending story. I had a lot of favorites in this collection. Sometimes, her characters talked or felt the exact same things that I do, although she expressed these thoughts in a much beautiful way that I’d ever could (of course she did). And I like to remark this, because I believe is the first time that I could fully recognize myself in fictional characters. I guess she really understood my kind (introverted people).

El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan, by Jorge Luis Borges

21401849English title: The Garden of Forking Paths

Yu Tsun is living in the UK during World War I and he is a spy for the German Empire. He has just discovered the location of a new British artillery park and wishes to convey that knowledge to his German handlers before he is captured by Richard Madden, a British spy. Tsun boards a train, narrowly avoiding Captain Madden at the train station. He has a little advantage over his hunter, and he goes to the house of Doctor Stephen Albert, an eminent Sinologist. As he walks up the road to Doctor Albert’s house, Tsun reflects on his great ancestor, Ts’ui Pên, a man that was famous for pursuing two things: to write a vast and intricate novel, and to construct an equally vast and intricate labyrinth. At his death, what he wrote was a “contradictory jumble of irresolute drafts” that made no sense and the labyrinth was never found. Tsun arrives at the house of Doctor Albert, who is deeply excited to have met a descendant of Ts’ui Pên. Albert explains excitedly that he has solved both mysteries—the chaotic and jumbled nature of Ts’ui Pên’s unfinished book and the mystery of his lost labyrinth.

This is a really short story, so if you want to know how it ends, you’ll have to read it! 😉 (it’s easily found online).

I had to read this short story for college. I usually enjoy this kind of writing from Borges, so I don’t know why I never read an entire book by him.