It is official! I am thrilled to announce that Lisa Gallagher, of the storied Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, is now my literary agent. Not only is she an amazing woman with years of experience as both an agent and publisher (check out her impressive bio), but she’s also someone who “gets” my novel and what I’ve tried to achieve within its pages. Oh, and she’s a nice person with a lovely British accent to boot. (Everything sounds better in a British accent.) Jackpot!Read More»
After folks find out that I’m writing a novel about the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, we usually get to talking about that event and its historical context. On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked for my recommendation of books that cover it. While there are some excellent historical sources that I’ve relied on to ensure the accuracy of my fictional story (including anything by the incredible Paul Preston, the British historian who’s written extensively about the war and Franco’s repressive regime), the first book I plan to suggest from now on is Nada, a novel by Carmen Laforet, a Catalan writer that a friend turned me onto.Read More»
A good friend of mine who works in television passed on her press copy of Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ A Sense of Direction, and I’m sure she sent it to me because, on the surface, it appears to be the story of the author’s participation in the centuries-old tradition of pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain—a place that my friend knows is dear to my heart. (It is the city where my cousin Finita lives and where I’ve spent a lot of time over the years.) But surfaces can be deceiving: shortly after I started reading Lewis-Kraus’ book, I realized that—much like the author himself as he sets out on his odyssey—I had completely misjudged what was about to happen.Read More»
During my November trip to Spain, I visited A Cidade da Cultura de Galicia, the large arts complex in Santiago de Compostela that opened earlier this year—though I use the word “opened” a little loosely; after 10 years and 400 million euros (about $560 million USD), the massive project is still not close to completion, with only two of the six planned buildings debuting last January. (Given the economic crisis that Spain is currently facing, it seems unlikely that the so-called “city of culture” will be populated any time soon.)
And even though the museum portion of the complex can be visited as part of a tour (along with the library and cultural archive), there’s no art yet on display.Read More»
I had a terrific time on my recent trip to Galicia, Spain, and I could give you many different reasons why. Among them: eating my way through the delicacies of the region (oh, the chorizo and empanada); taking a break from daily life (and its daily chores); being surrounded by a beautiful, inspiring city filled with history…and so on and so on. But if I had to highlight the best thing about my stay, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second: spending time with my dear cousin Finita.
Though we’re first cousins, I consider her the sister I never had. We’re both only children, with an age difference of just eight months, and our bond is even closer than that. We’ve shared many childhood summers, spent running around having a grand ‘ol time, getting into mischief, and generally growing up together. It was her parents’ apartment that was home base whenever Mom and I visited. (Though Dad spent time there as well, he often had to stay behind in New York or come back early because of work.) Finita’s mother and father, my dear departed Tío Celso (Mom’s brother) and Tía Mercedes (his wife), were like second parents to me.Read More»
Until I get back to writing new blog entries again in a few weeks, I share with you some photos of the beautiful, rainy, melancholy, rainy, soulful, rainy—did I mention rainy?—city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. A place that appears lifted straight out of a fable, shrouded in mist and low-hanging fog, its pervasive stone often glistening with rain.
Despite the frequent precipitation, or probably because of it, Santiago is a city with a palpabla aura, a place filled with hidden nooks, covered archways, and winding, narrow streets. It’s not hard to picture it populated by a cast of medieval characters straight out of Chaucer, lurking in the shadows…Read More»
A good book is like a friend. It may have nothing in common with others you like, but there is something about it that you respond to. Such is the case with the subject of today’s blog post, Esmond Romilly’s Boadilla.
Written by Winston Churchill’s nephew (though there were rumors that he was actually Churchill’s illegitimate son), Boadilla is the historical account of Romilly’s experience as a member of the International Brigades, the famed group of volunteers that fought on the side of the liberal coalition during the Spanish Civil War. These men and women traveled to Spain from far and wide with the aim of defeating fascism. Many were young, most were idealistic, and a large percentage of them never made it back to their home countries.Read More»
Yesterday, I attended Portugal Day events in Central Park and had the chance to hear some fine musical performances by Andre d’Almeida and his band as well as Nathalie Pires singing fado (accompanied on guitar by Francisco Chuva and Portuguese guitar by Pedro Silva). But as great as all the musicians were, for me the highlight of the day was the dance performance of the folk troupe Rancho Folclorico “Dança na Eira,” which is based in Newark, New Jersey.Read More»
In an earlier post, I joked about the possibility of focusing this blog on the issue of civil wars (the subject of my novel). While I have no intention of limiting myself in this way, current events have pushed the topic to front and center. (And I’m not referring only to stories of political upheaval in the Middle East, which I’ll address in a future post.)
A week ago, I was watching one of my favorite programs, CBS Sunday Morning, the most consistently intelligent, literate, and thoughtful newsmagazine on television. (I realize that that may not be saying all that much, given the competition, but this show deserves all the praise it receives.) Because 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, it’s a subject that’s been popping up quite a bit lately—in everything from reviews of new books that re-examine that historical event, to the story that CBS Sunday Morning ran last week on civil war re-enactors.Read More»
It’s a truism that traveling teaches you as much about home as it does about the destinations you visit, but sometimes you don’t even have to go anywhere to see your own world anew. Recently, a friend of mine, who is a high-profile chef in Spain, visited New York. In advance of his trip, I gave him advice about new and classic places to eat, and we made plans to have dinner on the last night of his stay. Given his enormous success at a very high level within the culinary world, he is friendly with a fair number of successful food professionals here who gave him their own restaurant recommendations as well, and he booked his itinerary with these suggestions in mind.Read More»