“FURY” BY SALMAN RUSHDIE

“Fury” is a novel about Malik Solanka, a 55-year-old Cambridge professor born in Bombay, who is the creator of “Little Brain”, a highly popular mechanical “philosophical” doll.

One night, Solanka finds himself standing over the sleeping bodies of his English wife and his little son with a knife in his hand. Confused and alarmed, he decides to abandon his family and go to New York where he hopes to escape the inner demons that he believes drove him to almost murder his family.

The book tries to explore personal demons or “furies” that are around him and it is also a portrait of New York.

“Fury” contains numerous subplots: a mystery about a series of murders in which his friend Jack Rhinehart is thought to be involved, the life of an anti-semitic plumber which story has been bought by a film studio, a sci-fi revolutionary fantasy that has a huge commercial success…

He strikes up two relationships. Mila Milo, a gorgeous serb, incest victim and young internet entrepreneur that helps Malik to cure about some of his demons and Neela Mahendra, his secretive love, a beauty indian very smart who is politically committed to the national liberation movement of his country. Solanka visits the island to meet Neela, but her devotion to the cause will entail some problems…

The characters in “Fury” are one-dimensional, lifeless and constructed according to contemporary American life.

Malik Solanka is too passive. He’s simply an observer with a back-story. He is an angry, impulsive man, but he is also pitiable and a bit desperate for love and acceptance.

This novel is a bit complex. It offers satirical themes and it mixes moments of anger and madness with black humour. It is not a fast-paced thriller. In fact, “Fury” is a bit slow, no much happens.

Susana

At Risk by Patricia Cornwell

A Massachusetts State Police investigator, Win Garano, is called from the National Forensic Academy in Tennessee by his boss, the District Attorney, Monique Lamont. She is running for governor and she plans to use a new crime initiative called ‘At Risk’ to employ new DNA technology so she sends Garano to Tennessee to work a twenty-year-old unsolved murder. Although he doesn’t want to work the case, he must obey her, so he starts the investigation, but, while carrying it out , a shocking violent act intervenes.

The characters draw you in from the beginning although they are one-dimensional, so, since you can’t get enough information about them, it is difficult to connect emotionally with them.

This novel is a whodunit written in present tense, what makes you feel part of it, and in a style accessible to any reader with quite plain language, despite being a crime book, because it doesn’t go into the facts in too much depth. In fact, the story is underdeveloped, the plot is sketchy, it doesn’t flow together, and nothing is fully explained. Therefore, this plot, intriguing but easy to lose the thread of it, requires all one’s powers of concentration.

That style is what really hooked me; I kept reading the book in order to know what happened. I couldn’t put it down. In my opinion, the novel starts well, keeping you in suspense at the beginning, but then, just as the plot and suspense are rising, you start the new chapter and find out that the detectives have it all solved so you think you have missed some crucial paragraph somehow. And, finally, the novel is finished suddenly as though the writer had a deadline so, when I got to the end, I realized that some of the facts were still unknown and I wasn’t really sure about what had happened. I suppose the reason of this bizarre end is that the writer had already planned to write the second part, entitled ‘The Front’.

To sum up, as far as I am concerned, the book is readable, albeit not as good as other Patricia Cornwell’s thrillers.

Natalia Garcia

ON CHELSIN BEACH

This novel that was written by Ian McEwans in 2007, is an emotion-filled story about the romance of a young couple, Edward Mayhew an ardent historian graduate, and Florence Ponting the tremulous lead violinist in a string quartet with aspirations to Wigmore Hall. They are 22 years old, attractive and good looking.

It tells the story of a couple that fell in love at first sight. The plot centres on their wedding night, at the beginning of the 1960s and takes place in a  Georgian hotel, beside Chelsin Beach. They have just got married in Oxford. Like all married couples in love they believe they will be making a new life.

Gleeful that their new status promised to promote them out of their endless youth, Edward and Florence, free at last ! Because since they got married they would not have to explain to anybody else about of their decided to do.

However they live in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible, in a world that belongs to the Americans and the Russians. While Florence, would rather thay anyone never touch her, because she hate that anyone touch her even this man she loves, on the other hand, Edward dreams fervently , silently of the ininterrupted pleasure that will be theirs now, the “wrangle over the ring” has been started.

However surprisingly,  both Edward and Florence think that she is frigid, so that in their meeting moments she is cold, while he is passionate.

McEwa’s real subject in this novel, is the way the smallest incident can have lifelong consequences, like it seems happen in this  disastrous honeymoon evening in Chelsin Beach. The author’s skillful, is the perfect-word at handing the awkward comedy of this relationship, turning it into something far more disturbing when the honeymoon night gets to the end. This is a skillful construted novel where the writing is wonderfully observed, its language is  full of descriptive adjectives slightly elaborated,  and it is  packed with lovely moments and well drawn characters.

McEwans manages to depict the night so vividly and sympathetically that there is no temptation to laugh. Although the details all seem rather arbitrary, since the moment the author do not explain the cause why Florence has a sexual problem . It is an extremely readable novel, and so gripping that I could not put it down.

M.Belén Pico

THE BOOK OF THE DEAD, by Patricia Cornwell (2007)

The “Book of the Dead” is an old expression which comes from Ancient Egyptian funerary texts. It is the morgue logbook, a sort of ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. After reading this book, however, it will take on a new meaning…

Bestseller Cornwell’s 15th novel depicts a new Kay Scarpetta adventure. In this occasion, the pathologist forensic has just opened a modern lab in the apparently peaceful city of Charleston, offering expert crime scene investigation and autopsies. Soon, she is asked to consult the murder of a famous American tennis champ in Rome. At the same time, she has to deal with other violent deaths, facing a killer as deadly as any she has ever encountered.

Once again, Cornwell presents characters from previous Scarpetta books. For this reason, they are not well drawn, since we are supposed to know them. The main character is Kay Scarpetta, a strong, perfectionist and intelligent woman holding her own in a profession dominated by men. Besides her, we can find her usual colleagues and their tumultuous and tangled relations. They are Benton Wesley, an FBI profiler and former boyfriend; Lucy, her beautiful and brilliant niece and Peter Marino, an excellent detective but tortured because he is secretly in love with Kay.

Besides its rather one-dimensional characters, the story has loads of commonplaces, clichés and awful stereotypes, such as the arrogant and ladies’ man Italian carabiniere Captain Poma. Written in a style immediately accessible to any reader, it delivers Cornwell’s trademark grisly crime scenes, but lacks coherence and emotional feelings. In addition, sometimes the reader flounders in excessive forensic details.

To sum up, this is another whodunit full of twist bestseller, which I recognize its ability to entertain and enthrall, but only for diehard Cornwell fans.

Conchi Olea.

THE CAPRICHO by GAUDI

Recently I spent some time in Comillas and visited “The Capricho” by Gaudi, an original building that literally made me feel  breathless.

Amongst the trees we find a “folly” designed by Gaudi and built for Maximo Diaz de Quijano, brother in-law of the marquess of  “Comillas”.

Its is name “The Capricho”, in it we can find some of the keys of  Gaudi´s style . It is posible that to build The Capricho, Gaudi had been inspired in this expression applied to a musical fragment to make changes of  rhythm, breaking the rules to the point, that some of its lines have surrealist qualities.

This unique and beautiful building is all music, poetry, painting and  architecture. The combination of Spanish and Arabic elements decorate the whole construction.

Gaudi, going against the standards of the time, combine iron structures,with reddish and yellow bricks, and with glazed pottery to achieve a touch of  pure surrealism. Besides the sunflowers  that decorate the friezes along the facade, deserve special mention  the Tower and the Porch. There are also two marvellous stained-glass windows of differents colours, where we can see a bird  and a dragonfly that seems to be playing an  instrument.

This construction, which blends in beautifully with the landscape, stands out because of its delicate proportions and its rounded curving shape.If  you are a lover of  architecture, “The Capricho is worth  a visit.

M.Belen Pico.

Cousin Phyllis by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cousin Phyllis ia a novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell in 1864. It was published in four parts, and it’s said to be one of  Elizabeth Gaskell’s most mature works.

The story is about Paul Manning, a youth of nineteen who arrives in Elthan full of enthusiasm to work as a clerk to Mr. Haldsworth, a railway engineer. In Ethan Paul meets his mother’s family, the learned Reverend Holman and his daughter Phillis who is confused by her own placement at the age of adolescence. They gave Paul a warm welcome into their home (The Hope Farm).  When Mr. Holdworth, a handsome and experienced young man, meets the Holmans, they get captive by his wit and knowledge of the world. They become regular visitors that enchanted summer, until Mr. Holdsworth decides going to work to Canada. In Canada Mr. Holdworth meets a French woman, Lucille Ventadur, and decides to marry her. The novel depicts the changes in society which were taking place in the last eighties, when a modern industrialized word was starting to develop.

Other important characters are, Cousin Holman, Ibenezzer Holman, who is the Minister’s wife (Mr. Holman’s) and Phillis’ mother. And the new master, the person who comes in the place of Mr. Holdworth when he went to Canada.

I found this novel gripping, quite moving and easy reading, even if it contains old-use words like ‘thy’, (meaning your), that make a dictionary to be useful. I recommend it to readers who like short entertaining love stories.

Manuel

The Tower of Pisa

Archivo:Leaning Tower of Pisa.jpgThe Tower of Pisa, belfry of the cathedral of Pisa, is one of Italy’s best known and most photographed monuments. In fact, it is considered one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Although built to stand vertically, the tower began leaning soon being built in 1173 due to weak foundations and unstable subsoil. That is why it is called the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The architectural style of the Tower mixes the Gothic elements of the belfry with the Romanesque style of the tower.

The Tower is made of white marble. It is over 15 metres round and 56 metres high and its weight is estimated at 14,500 tons. It has eight floors with an inside spiral staircase of 294 steps and it is well-known for its seven bells, one for each note of the musical scale.

It took near 200 years to build this tower, finished in 1372. Although the architects tried to counteract the inclination, it is still leaning nowadays, but because of the restoration made between 1990 and 2001, the tower now leans at an angle of 3.9 degrees instead of the former 5.5 degrees.

One of the most remarkable things related to the tower, apart from its inclination, is that Galileo Galilei is thought to have dropped two cannon balls of different mass from the tower to demonstrate that the speed at which any object falls was independent of the mass.

When I visited Pisa, I was stunned watching the Tower which did not fall despite its leaning and I took the typical photo everybody takes in which it seems you are holding it.

Natalia