lunes, 12 de agosto de 2013

Las interioridades (Interiors) - Félix J. Palma

This is a short story collection bordering on magical realism, written by the Spanish author Félix J. Palma (here is his official page in Spanish). Unfortunately, this volume is only available in Spanish. And even here I could only find it in libraries. Although he has won a truckload of awards in Spain, I knew nothing whatsoever about him until his most recent novel, The Map of the Sky, was translated into English. I then read the first volume of his Victorian Trilogy, The Map of Time, and fell in love. And now I'm on a quest to read his backlist.

Las interioridades would roughly translate to Interiors, and it is the title of the first of six short stories or tales which incorporate fantastic elements in otherwise common lives. Palma's style is a little bit flowery, but I think his word choices are key to making this collection stand out. He often comes up with very unusual images and metaphors. I'm very picky about metaphors and similes since they are so often misused and make no sense, but these are perfect. 

The stories are not only well-written, but also intriguing and entertaining. I was glued to the book. As in every collection, some stories are better than others, but the good ones are so good they compensate the others. In short, I'm not disappointed by this early volume, but I expect a more depurated style in his later work, more similar to the Victorian Trilogy.

Because it is such a short collection, I'm going to go a little bit more in-depth with each story and there will be spoilers. I have tried to translate the titles, so bear with me.

viernes, 2 de agosto de 2013

The Map of Time (Victorian Trilogy #1) - Félix J. Palma

Summary (from Goodreads):
Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence.

What happens if we change history? The author explores this question in the novel, weaving an historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting—a story full of love and adventure that transports readers to a haunting setting in Victorian London for their own taste of time travel.

First of all, I want to point out that this is not a proper novel, but more a kind of linked novellas, H.G. Wells and time travel being the links. And if this alone isn't beyond cool, the author-narrator speaks to the reader directly, forcing us to be part of the story.

Secondly, this is a very intelligent novel. Palma succesfully recreates Victorian London and fiction, while giving it a definite twenty-first-century twist. It is a lovely homage to Wells and to other fathers of genre fiction: Bram Stoker, Henry James and a not-so-vital-to-the-plot A.C. Doyle. This is great sci-fi going back to its origins and still managing to be fresh.

Last, but not least, it appealed to the book nerd that I am at heart, especially with this sentence: "If Wells recognized any merit in [Henry] James, it was his undeniable talent for using very long sentences in order to say nothing at all." It perfectly defines my love-hate relationship with Henry James books.

However, be warned: the plot is a meandering one. I'm perfectly okay with it because I am so sorry that the story is over. At least it is a trilogy, and I hope the next book doesn't suffer from second-book syndrome - I am eager to read it already. So eager, I decided I wouldn't wait for my turn at the library and bought this one and the next installment.