The Language of Passion, by Mario Vargas Llosa

>> Monday, May 09, 2005

One of my reading goals this year is to read more books in Spanish. I mean, sure, I live in Spanish, speak it and hear it spoken all day, every day, but nothing can replace reading a good book to make you enjoy a language, so I'll try to make a point of picking up more stuff by Spanish-speaking authors. It's not as if it's going to be a hardship!

El Lenguaje de la Pasión (The Language of Passion), is a collection of columns by Mario Vargas Llosa, one of my favourite authors. These columns were originally published in Spanish newspaper El Pais throughout the 90s and were picked up by other newspapers around the world. I vaguely remember reading some of them in Uruguayan weekly Busqueda.

I thought this book was going to last me at least a week. I imagined reading only a couple of essays every day, maybe three or four, at most, but I pretty much read it in a couple of seatings. The problem is I'd finish one, then look at the next one to see what it was about and by the time I'd scanned the first couple of paragraphs I was hooked and had to keep on reading. Some of the columns interested more than others, of course, and there were even a couple I was tempted to skim, but on the whole, the collection was very even.

Maybe one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much was that most of Vargas Llosa's opinions so reflect mine. There's a great pleasure in reading something that expresses exactly what you feel (the column on the legalization of abortion comes to mind), and which does a much better job than you ever could in explaining why.

And then there's the actual writing. The way this man can put a sentence together is a pleasure. Even the columns I wanted to skim, I ended up not doing so, just because I didn't want to risk missing another gem.

The last of these columns was from 1999, so I hope it's time for another collection! My grade: an A-.


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