August 5, 2015

CYAN and Other Stories by Alina Cvetkova (Review)

Title: CYAN and Other Stories
Author: Alina Cvetkova
Rating: ★★★★☆

I now know a person who’s published a book! Exciting, right? The release party was two weeks ago, and it was also the first one I’ve ever participated in. I can confess I enjoy this kind of bookish socializing a lot! Drinking and readings and some performance - what can be better?

The book itself is a collection of short stories written in English and translated into Spanish, both versions included in the edition. Now, English is not Alina’s mother-tongue, but it’s so good it makes me green with envy, in a good sense, of course. I do know how hard it is to make what you write look effortless, and her writing is that and even more. I’m competitive as hell and always hate it when somebody wields a (foreign) language better than I do. Unless of course it’s a guy, and then it’s super-hot.

But I digress.

The stories are very short, sometimes only a page long, and vary in style on a range from Kafka to Nabokov in his German years. My favorite were the short Kafkaesque stories, weird and shocking. When you miss a metro stop not even because your are reading, but because you’ve just finished a story and are contemplating it, you know it’s a good one. The longer and more “normal” stories, even though sometimes a bit disconnected, parade a huge number of “Oh how true, I couldn’t have nailed it better!” moments. I really like these random observations, especially when they confirm your own and don’t sound banal at the same time.

I should probably mention that most of the stories are set in Barcelona and convey a rather specific mood prevailing in the city. I’m not a big fan of Barcelona right at the moment, because I got robbed on Saturday (a common thing here, but still you never think it’ll happen to you), but I expect this mood to pass and get back to a blissful feeling of love I normally have towards this city. Anyway, although some of the stories could have happened anywhere, for others Barcelona is a necessary and vibrant background, which adds a lot to the pleasure of reading them.

I must confess I was a little skeptical about the book, because it is of course a very amateurish crowd-funding endeavor and a first book at that. I was even prepared to (shock!) lie about how I liked it, because it’s a nice thing to do if an author is your friend. But really, I don’t need to, because the book is actually very good. So if you happen to be in Barcelona or just want to treat yourself to a piece of clever sunny weirdness, you can buy a copy HERE.

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