Friday 25 January 2013

In Praise of Carlos Ruiz Zafon

If you're here you'll know I'm a writer, and there comes a time for every writer when they feel the need to bow down in awe of someone who's skill is infinitely better than theirs.  Today I'd like to do that to Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Spanish author of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game.

I read The Shadow of the Wind a few years ago and it was an astonishingly good book.  A mystery story set in early 20th Century Barcelona, it had everything: exquisite writing, wonderful characters and fantastic plot twists.


The wife recently bought me The Angel's Game for Christmas and while I've only read a few pages so far it looks to be along the same lines.  When I write I do my best to write well, but sometimes I find myself reading a book that I just can't touch.  One day, I hope, but certainly not now.

Here's a little paragraph for you from page 30 of The Angel's Game -

"More than once I too hoped that would happen, but my father always came back and found me alive and kicking, and a bit taller.  Mother Nature didn't hold back: she punished me with her extensive range of germs and miseries, but never found a way of successfully finishing the job.  Against all prognoses, I survived those first years on a tightrope of a childhood before penicillin. In those days death was not yet anonymous and one could see and smell it everywhere, devouring souls that had not even had time enough to sin."

Read it aloud.  It's like poetry, perfectly flowing and rhythmical.  And that last sentence ... it's literature as art.  I've heard a lot of popular fiction writers criticising literary fiction because of its verbosity, when to me that shows an underlying envy of someone who has mastered their craft.  When one puts pen to paper it is with the attempt to write something that comes alive off the page, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon does that with ease.

His stories are just brilliant too.  If you haven't read The Shadow of the Wind and you like deep, involving mysteries with insane plot twists all wrapped up in beautiful prose, I suggest you give it a try.

26th January 2012

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