The problem with being utterly lazy is
that things donít get done when theyíre supposed to get done. Take
tonight, for instance. At this moment I am supposed to be putting
the finishing touches on a psychology assignment that was due today,
and flicking through the final pages of Carlos Ruiz Zafůnís
excellent new novel The Angelís Game. Instead Iím on my
second glass of red wine, the assignment has barely been started and
Iíve read exactly thirteen pages of Zafůnís 450-page opus. But what
a thirteen pages!
The action opens in 1917. A young
assistant at a Barcelona newspaper is finally given his big break
when a planned article falls through, and one of his original crime
fiction pieces is substituted. These become a regular feature and
prove immensely popular with the paperís readership, earning him a
sense of satisfaction but the undying enmity of the rest of the
paperís older, jaded staff members.
And thatís as far as Iíve gotten. Itís
not that Iím not enjoying it; on the contrary Zafůn has an
impressive command of the written word, the characterisation is
excellent and Lucia Gravesí translation first class. Itís that Iíve
got lots of other things to do. Iíve just received a review copy of
Churchhillís German Army that isnít going to watch itself.
Iíll probably be drunk soon. Plus Iím lazy. Very, very lazy.
So letís see what some other reviewers,
who presumably have read the book in its entirety, had to say. ĎA
love letter to literatureí declared Who Weekly. ĎA story so
expansive that to describe it as an epic doesnít quite do it
justiceí crowed someone from the Adelaide Advertiser. People
from slightly higher-end publications have been equally as kind.
ĎFucking dynamiteí cried the New York Times. They didnít
really. Iím paraphrasing. What they wrote was ĎGabriel Garcia
Marquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges,í which when you
think about it is kind of the same thing.
In short, if the three percent of the
novel Iíve read so far is anything to go on, The Angelís Game,
despite its title, promises to be a corker and you should probably
read it without further ado. It certainly has hints of Marquez,
without being a boring overrated piece of shit like Love in the
Time of Cholera, and is possessed of an endearing, subtle humour
that instantly resonates. The first paragraph, for example, is
But donít take my word for it. Here it
is in its entirety: ĎA writer never forgets the first time he
accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story.
He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood, and
the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his
lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof
over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets
most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that will
surely outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment,
because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.í