Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’
March 26, 2012 | by Andrea Aguilar
On the fifteenth of June 2008, only a few minutes after stepping into the sand of Madrid’s bullring, the bullfighter José Tomás was covered in blood. Just ten days before, he had had his most glorious fight ever, a fight that turned even the usually skeptical aficionados ecstatic. That second afternoon the stakes were high, but the bullfight proved to be crude and epic. Tomás was gored three times. After each goring, he stubbornly stood up, planted himself on the ground, and fought on, never stepping back from the bull. His torso bent achingly slowly, inches from the animal, to subtly guide the charge. His calm was astounding. It didn’t matter that this time the bulls weren’t following his wrist but rather searching for his body—he wanted to deliver the same smooth performance as he had ten days before.
Tomás had to undergo three operations as soon as he left the ring. One of the wounds ran twenty inches into his right thigh and tore his muscle. Some viewers accused him of being suicidal; others saw the consummate performance of Spain’s best bullfighter, one who was ready to fight steadily till the end. When a journalist asked the old former matador Esplá, “What is courage?” he answered, “It’s the spot where José Tomás stands.”Read More »
September 29, 2011 | by Jane and Jonathan Wells
“A poem is never finished, it is abandoned,” said the sculptor Jaume Plensa, quoting Paul Valéry on a sunny September morning in New York City, as he watched Echo, his forty-four-foot sculpture of a female head, being dismantled piece by piece.
My husband Jonathan Wells and I are Flatiron residents. We had lived alongside Echo since she arrived in May and, for Jonathan, she had become an object of fascination and reverence. He had been working on a poem about her for months but found himself unable to conclude it. He had refamiliarized himself with the myth of Narcissus and Echo; he had learned all he could about Plensa and the nine-year-old neighbor in Barcelona who had inspired the piece, a child who had taken shape in the statue with the timelessness and serenity of a Buddha. On this, the statue’s last morning, Jonathan recognized the Catalan sculptor standing between the cranes and the crew.
“I always hoped my work would inspire other artists,” Plensa told my husband, as they discussed myth, marble dust, art collectors, and teaching schedules. “Please send me your poem.” After watching Echo come apart, Jonathan knew he had an ending. Here is what he sent to Plensa:
White as x ray bone she rises through
The trees in stone as if she were sublime,
As if she knew what this grace was
And she was only nine, framed
Between her errands and her games.
Her nymph’s body surges underground
Not knowing what this buried love
Beneath her neighbors play Frisbee
On the grass and strangers take her
Photograph. The final sun pours
Into her sealed eyes and mouth as though
She were the saint of radiant stillness
Who says this marble flesh is a prison
Stone yet the mind flies with
The confetti of birds, soars into
The beliefs of summer.
Silence succumbs to air and the blossoms
Sail down, the clocktower’s fretted hands
Notched against her ribs.
Questions flood her blood
And darkness, flee and then she’s gone,
Taken from our vanquished arms but
She still speaks in the autumn leaves,
In the furrowed bark, in the singsong
Of the childrens’ swings.
Jonathan Wells’s collection, Train Dance, will be published by Four Way Books in October.
August 19, 2011 | by Lorin Stein and John Jeremiah Sullivan
Late last Tuesday night, a crowd gathered in an antique circus tent, in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, to shelter from the rain, drink whiskey, and hear readings by Paris Review contributor Donald Antrim and Southern editor John Jeremiah Sullivan, both introduced by editor Lorin Stein. The program—The Paris Review Presents New American Writing at the Edinburgh Book Fair—received mixed reviews. One tweeter called it “bloomin’ superb.” A blogger asked, “Why can’t there be events like this in Edinburgh all the time?” One young festival volunteer, less enthusiastically, described it as “wordy.” What did she expect? “Last year when McSweeney’s came, the editor got up on stage and shaved his head.”
For some, head shaving is not an option. Instead, at the end of the night, the Paris Review delegates opened the floor to requests for advice, which were submitted on scraps of paper. Most were answered on the spot; others were tucked into a notebook and reviewed on the road, as editors Sullivan and Stein recuperated from the book fair triumph/fiasco.
Could you recommend a travel book about either Japan or Spain?
We are composing this response under deadline in the West Highlands—specifically, in the self-proclaimed “oldest pub in Scotland,” the Lachlann Inn, on the banks of Loch Lomond. As everyone knows, they didn’t have WiFi in 1734 (although they do appear to have had video poker). For this reason, we can’t answer your question in the kind of depth that American readers have come to expect from The Paris Review. We can only recommend, in Lorin’s case, Robert Hughes’s Barcelona and, in John’s case, Journey of a Thousand Miles, the famous series of travel haiku by Basho. (John would also like to recommend the Laura Veirs song “Rapture,” which is not strictly speaking a travelogue, but does include a tribute to “lovely Basho / his plunking ponds and toads.”)
Please recommend a good book for our book club. We are currently reading Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit From the Goon Squad and have recently read such books as So Much for That, The Dice Man, Middlesex, Half of a Yellow Sun, Oryx and Crake, and Rebecca.
—Marion & Co.
When we see the title The Dice Man, we both think of the scandal-plagued comedian of our youth, the “Dice Man,” Andrew Dice Clay—and that can’t possibly be what you have in mind. Still, we are struck by the breadth of your reading. Your question has been on our minds. Yesterday we wandered into a small used bookstore at the foot of the Castle mound and both ogled a complete 1910 Robert Louis Stevenson in twenty volumes. John proposed that we donate it to your book club; Lorin found it “too rich” for The Paris Review’s “blood.” As a backup, John recommends Ghost Light, Joseph O’Connor’s fictional re-creation of John Millington Synge’s hopeless love affair with the Abbey Theatre actress Molly Allgood. And we both recommend—in the strongest possible terms—our colleague Donald Antrim’s short novel The Verficationist, about an academic meeting gone horribly wrong amid the hustle and bustle of an International House of Pancakes.