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.

El gran teatro, by Manuel Mujica Láinez

1198569Approximate translation: The great theater

I never read anything from “Manucho” that I didn’t utterly love.

The great theater which the title refers to is the Colón (one of the top 5 opera houses in the world, for its size, acoustics and history, according to Wikipedia, of course), the scenery for this novel, which is structured like an opera: overture, first act, first intermission, second act, etc. Everybody who is somebody is that night there, for the premiere of Parsifal, but few of them are actually there to hear Wagner. The author describes in a very lucid and charming style the high society of the thirties in Buenos Aires, with families divided from decades, social climbing, picturesque characters, romantic affairs, delusions of grandeur, hidden homosexuality, bankruptcy and every possible ingredient. How everybody moves and talks, from the college students in the cheaper seats, to the great names in the boxes, and the violinist with honey hair. And everybody is expectant for the next grand amusement: Bebe’s ball. Few are invited, and the rest is desperately seeking for an invitation.

I’m always out of words when I have to talk about anything written by Mujica Láinez. I guess I’m just glad that I was born in the same country that he did, that he wrote in the same language I speak and that I was able to know his fantastic works.