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Aura by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp

A beautiful and poetic magical novella (about 60 pages) by famous Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, set in an old colonial house, cut off from the rest of the world for the past 60 years, located in an almost deserted street of central Mexico City, in the 1960s.

The tale, which covers a period of 4 days, recounts the story of two lovers, one deceased, the other still living, who meet again in an imaginary world, overcoming time, space, oblivion, and death, crossing the frontier of years, in order to become immortal, using a system of regression proving to the reader that a great passion never dies and that time is not a linear but a circular concept.

A breathtaking story where Carlos Fuentes uses literary techniques to involve the reader, likewise a detective, in the resolution of a mystery.

Although the vocabulary is not difficult, the bilingual edition is very useful for those who don’t have a sufficient mastery of the Spanish language.

Go to Bilingual edition

Review by Christine Kahane

Chilean novelist Luis Sepulveda talks about Gijón
by Christine Kahane

The famous Chilean novelist Luis Sepulveda talks about Gijón where he lives since 1996.

“I visited Gijon for the first time in 1982 and fell in love with this city and its people, its light and its pearl like coloured air similar to the Chilean Pacific. At the time I was living in Paris. I decided that when I could get the opportunity to move there, I would do it. And one day my dream came true and I moved with my family to Gijón. To remain linked to Latin America, I had the idea of creating a book exhibition called Salón del Libro Iberoamericano de Gijón.”

Every year in May, this Asturian city is a compulsory meeting place for all Spanish language writers, creating a cultural bridge between both sides of the Atlantic. This exhibition is the most important one of the kind in Europe.

You must absolutely read The Old Man Who Read Love Stories by novelist Luis Sepulveda. It's a moving and magical story, which tackles the defence of the Amazonia jungle, and brought Luis Sepulveda fame:

“a man is forced to confront a dangerous female jaguar and his own past through the sacrificial killing of the beast he has grown to love”.

It has been translated into 46 languages and more than 10 million copies were sold all over the world.

Another interesting and witty book by Luis Sepulveda is The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly which recounts the “relationship between a seagull injured by an ecological desaster who, shortly before dying, asks a cat to take care of the egg it just laid, and when the fledling is born to teach him to fly”.

Both books have been adapted for the screen.

Chileno novelista Luis Sepulveda en Gijon
escritora : Christine Kahane

El famoso novelista chileno Luis Sepúlveda habla de Gijón donde vive desde 1996.

“Estuve en Gijón una vez en 1982 y me enamoré de sus gentes y de esta ciudad, de su luz y de su aire color perla como el del Pacífico chileno. Entonces yo vivía en París. Me prometí que en cuanto pudiera me vendría a vivir aquí. Y lo conseguí. Un día pude realizar mi sueño : instalarme con mi familia en Gijón. Para seguir ligado a América Latina tuve la idea de crear el Salón del Libro Iberoamericano de Gijón”.

Y cada mes de mayo, esta ciudad asturiana se convierte en una cita obligatoria de los escritores de lengua española, estableciendo asi un puente cultural a los dos lados del atlántico. Es la más importante feria del libro latinoamericano de Europa.

Del novelista Luis Sepúlveda hay que leer Un viejo que leía novelas de amor, una historia conmovedora y mágica, perfecta defensa de la Amazonia, que lo llevo a la fama:

“un hombre tiene que enfrentarse a una tigrilla peligrosa y a su propio pasado a través del sacrificio de la fiera de la cual ha terminado por encariñarse”.

Fue traducido a 46 lenguas y se han vendido más de 10 millones de ejemplares por todo el mundo.

Otro libro de Sepulveda interesante y gracioso es Historia de una gaviota y del gato que le enseñó a volar que cuenta “la relación entre una gaviota herida por un desastre ecológico que, poco antes de morir, le pide a un gato que cuide el huevo de su cria y que cuando nazca le enseñe a volar”.

Ambas novelas han sido llevado a la gran pantalla.

Caperucita en Manhattan, Carmen Martin Gaité.

Christine Kahane writes, I recently read a well-written and entertaining little book which I strongly recommend to those who are interested in Spanish culture.

Caperucita en Manhattan (or Little Red Riding Hood in Manhattan) is a charming short novel, easy to read for those who are learning Spanish, which has been translated into all the major languages.

Carmen Martin Gaité adapts the well-known tale by Perrault/Grimm to our modern society, with Little Red Riding Hood living in Manhattan.

All the main characters from the tale appear in this novel. It’s a spontaneous, sensitive story that initially appears to be a children’s tale. But it is not.

Through the ingenuous but lucid and critical vision of a ten-year-old girl, who is accumulating all kinds of experiences and who at times does not manage to understand what is happening in the minds of the adults surrounding her, the fundamental philosophical ideas and truths of life, such as the fight for freedom or the struggle against fear, are encountered. Furthermore, this book incites everyone to keep forever the vision, the spirit and the heart of a child. Those who enjoyed the “The Little Prince” by French writer Saint-Exupéry will love “Caperucita en Manhattan”.

Nicky adds, According to Amazon.com, this title isn't available in English. However, there are other recommended works by Carmen Martin Gaité, including Variable Cloud and The Back Room.


Race2Replace Webisode : Mining for Chechu

Seven years in the shadow of an American Icon, once faithful soldiers in Lance Armstrong’s rolling army, seven elite cyclists, chase the dream: Who will be the next Lance?

So begins each video in Discovery’s Race2Replace series. Currently found at the team website, Race2Replace is a promotion that combines short videos, called “webisodes”, with a campaign of TV commercials, and a cycling contest for fans.

The webisodes are vignettes that show something about each rider’s personality, and indicate what sort of leader he would be, should he take over Lance’s position as team leader.

Chechu’s webisode is called Mining for Chechu, and visits his home in Asturias, in the north of Spain. It’s a combination travelogue and introspective interview, in elegant English.

Chechu shows us his garden and house, filling us in on the background of his family and the coal mining history of the place. His stories are warm and charming, and include several generations of family, back to his great-great-grandmother and the intriguing place where she did her laundry!

Chechu also goes on a training ride with teammate and fellow Asturian, Benjamin Noval, and shows us his electrical engineering studies. Throughout the video, he communicates his love of cycling, the importance of training and taking care of himself, his contentment with home, his desire to win and awareness of how complicated that is, and how vital it is for people to challenge themselves mentally.

The video is deeply beautiful, surprising to all of us who were not aware that Asturias must have been the Garden of Eden. The mountains and fields, the cattle and apple orchards all spin past our eyes to the rhythm of enticingly lovely Spanish music. Ideas like loyalty, faithfulness, and endurance permeate the text of the video.

Perhaps it’s good to live near family and reminders of the past, surrounded by nature and agriculture, with a view of it all from the bicycle. Chechu’s life seems to have made him a man with a beautiful soul. The cycling world senses this, but only labels it collegially by calling him “The Nicest Guy in the Peloton.” Mining for Chechu gives some clues as to how Chechu got that way, and how he stays that way.

Review by Rebecca Bell.


Lance Armstrong: tour de force, Daniel Coyle, 2005

I don’t read sports books generally. In recent weeks, however, I’ve delved into more cycling books than ever before. Some I’m happy to skim for references to Chechu, a few have caught my attention because they’re well written.

American journalist Daniel Coyle has written a lively book about the 2004 pro cycling season, which gives colour and life to a world I simply can’t imagine.

Coyle was given extraordinary access to the US Postal team and to Lance Armstrong’s private world. He offers glimpses of life on the road with US Postal and some perfect moments to savour. I love the idea that cyclists check out each other's backsides to see who is carrying too much weight. And poor Jan Ullrich had to hold in his stomach at an early season sign-on. Coyle enjoys the cool efficiency and all-knowing of the US Postal’s Belgians. Bruyneel’s commentary, given word for word, to Armstrong on 2004 final time trial is thrilling. Interesting chapters on Hamilton, Landis and Ferrari bulk out Coyle’s entertaining commentary.

This book has an easy, flowing style, packed full of great stories and you will laugh out loud.

A quick note: the US title is Lance Armstrong's War.


We discovered cycling.tv soon after its launch last year. It had a kind of home-spun feel. Whilst the live race coverage, mainly from Belgium, was truly impressive, features such as the video diary of the Etape du Tour hopeful, Alex Aruja, shot over his long training period, were mesmerising.

This kind of real person’s view of cycling is sadly missing from the redesigned slickness of cycling.tv 2006. But no complaints, the quality of pictures is matched by great commentary (we’ve been known to turn the sound off during David Duffield’s rambles on Eurosport).

At the moment, the content is focussed on the Belgian classics but they’ve just announced that, together with OLN, they will be broadcasting from the Giro d’Italia to the US in May. Don’t miss that, if you thought the Tour de France is exciting, wait until you see the Giro. And of course, Chechu’s scheduled to ride this year.

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