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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Madrid Confessions

Madrid Confessions

I recently just finished the audio book of Travesuras de la Niña Mala by Mario Vargas Llosa (MVLL), a book that I had read in print a little over a year ago. I found the audio version on the net. It is one of those computer-generated recordings that sound like a robotic telephone operator—sort of tedious but my Spanish is good enough now to understand it. As I pedaled along the beach bike paths during the four or five days it took me to listen to this 700 page novel I was constantly amazed by Vargas Llosa’s story telling skill. Of all of the novels of MVLL, this is the most straight-forward story with no flashbacks or jumps in time. For this reason it was incredibly easy to read in Spanish. Listening to the audio version, even as read by R2D2, was a snap. I actually stopped short on my bike ride today because I forgot to recharge the battery on my MP3 and it died only a few minutes from leaving the house. I promptly turned around and rejuiced the battery before heading out again. I desperately wanted to keep hearing this great tale of love and obsession.

I try to listen only to books in Spanish but I can’t find enough in this language to satisfy my appetite. I was given a preview of the audio book by Ben Curtis of Notes from Spain called Madrid Confessions. He certainly has his target audience nailed as I have become completely addicted to audio books. Ben is a great story teller. My own writing style isn’t really about telling stories. I am more or less just a wise-ass so I have a lot to learn about story telling. Note from Self to Self: learn how to tell stories.

Madrid Confessions tells the story of his life since moving to Madrid over a decade ago, a subject of particular interest to me although I have seven and a half years until I reach the decade mark in my Spanish residency. An audio book, or a book conceived specifically for broadcast is an audacious concept in my opinion. One thing that I noticed in his narration is that he doesn’t seem to be reading from a script (although he must be) because he has a very relaxed and intimate style. It is more like he is just having a conversation and at times you are almost tempted to interrupt to ask a question or to add something to the dialogue or to go up to the bar to order a couple more beers. I even found myself raising my hand as you would in a classroom but he never called on me.

He has a great story about talking about football with the guy at his garage and how it is a topic you can share with almost everyone in Spain. I call it the Esperanto of morons (I'm fluent!). Football is the common language spoken by idiots everywhere on earth, even in America more and more. His story has a darker and more serious side to it. It was a bit terrifying. He talks about his initial dip into the deep, cold waters of the business world. Entrepreneur is French for “unemployed” as he quotes from the Urban Dictionary.

It was a lot of fun listening to it and it made me realize how I need to do more in the way of storytelling in my own writing.