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Old Today, 16:54   #1201
Raoul Duke III
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: The Department of Truth and Unicorns
Posts: 27,233
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Originally Posted by Raoul Duke III View Post
Took my daughter to the library for the first time in a few months (probably the greatest public service ever in the history of mankind) and came out with three very promising books:

The Imposter by Javier Cercas. Cercas is an incredible writer and very accessible in translation. His masterpiece for me is Soldiers of Salamis but I have also read and loved The Anatomy of a Moment and The Speed of Light. Beautiful prose, wonderful stories grounded in historical reality that shine a light on Spain and the human stories behind some very famous headlines.
Finished The Imposter.
It's a dive into the life of Enric Marco (who has several other aliases); a man who was spectacularly unmasked as a liar in 2005, having previously claimed to be, amongst other things a Nazo concentration camp survivor, a Spanish Civil War hero and an anarchist trade union leader. You get the sense that Cercas is both repelled and fascinated by his subject, who remains slippery, elusive, devious and manipulative to the very end. He frequently refers to the book as being one that he never wanted to write yet, as an exemplar of the art of historical memory (he writes 'novels without fiction') it seems that he just could not pass up the chance to document the life and lies of Marco. He ranges far and wide in the course of this volume, delving into another great Spanish fantasist, Don Quixote for inspiration as well as philosophically dissecting the role of lies in life - he frequently returns to Marco's claim of "yes I was a liar, but my lies did good in educating people about the horrors of totalitarianism".

Some people might find Cercas's style annoying - he tends to return to the same topic and trains of thought repeatedly throughout the book but his gradual unmasking of Marco in all his grandiose self-deception is a masterpiece. The very last act of the book, in the archives of Flossenburg concentration camp, will take your breath away.

If you are new to the author, start with Soldiers of Salamis. This however stands on its own as a very fine work in its own right. Once of those books that you would be tempted to start again once you had finished it and I imagine it would bear plenty of rereading.

4.5/5
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