Monday, July 23, 2012

Aura (Carlos Fuentes)

Aura is the first book I've ever read in its original Spanish, which is very exciting for me but probably less so for everyone else. That being said, I don't want to sound like I understood everything perfectly because about halfway through, I stopped bothering to translate every word I didn't recognize. So if I misunderstood something, sorry.

Anyway, our story is that of a young man, Felipe Montero, who answers an ad in the newspaper looking for someone fluent in French. He answers, and meets an old woman named Consuelo who lives with her young, beautiful niece Aura. Consuelo wants Felipe to translate her dead husband's papers, and Felipe agrees because he is transfixed with Aura.

What follows is a spiral into violence and passion and magical realism (at least I think it's magical realism--I'm not an expert on the subject, having only read One Hundred Years of Solitude). I don't want to spoil it, although I have to admit that I wasn't shocked, but I'm not sure if I was supposed to be. The story is fascinating, and I loved watching Fuentes lock all of the pieces together and then step back to let it unfold.

The language of the story is beautiful and the narrative is unique for using second-person narration to put the reader in the place of Felipe Montero. The action alternates between present tense and future tense, which, when combined with the strange events and the ethereal language, give the entire novella the feel of a twisted fever dream. It's a delicious effect.

Carlos Fuente's Aura is an enchanting tale of the blurred lines between fantasy and reality; it's a great, short read for any fan of contemporary Latin American literature.

My rating: 4/5
Aura on Goodreads
See what I've been reading lately!

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