Snippet: Calderón’s evocations of Barcelona in the 1970s

Manuel Calderón, Bach para pobres [Bach for the poor], 2015, 304 p.

Bookseller’s summary:

Bach para pobres is a juvenile novel written with the dexterity received from maturity and knowledge after many intensively lived years and with the perspective that comes with working in different culture sections of some of the most important Spanish newspapers. Bach para pobres is Manuel Calderón’s literary debut. It is a personal and original book that flees the cliches. Manuel draws a literary territory situated in southern Spain which he calls Esperanza [hope]. One day there appears in this unique setting a German, Karl Bonhof, looking for a man, a former member of the División Azul [Franco troops that helped Hitler during WWII], to thank him for his brave actions in a terrible battle, that of Krasny Bor. But this presumed act was used to hide the cowardice or sense of survival of a man who had feigned his death to escape the battle unharmed. Esperanza appears as a miners’ village populated by phantoms that later reappear throughout the story. Bonhof, a pianist who loves Bach’s counterpoint, is also haunted by his own frustrations of having failed to become a famous performer and being forced to gain a living by playing the piano with great virtuosity in hotels.

After reading Sergio Vila-Sanjuán’s review this blogger doubts that the bookseller and the reviewer are talking about the same book. The reviewer’s one sounds a lot more interesting, e.g.

“the family scenes of this novel, of solidarity among its members facing adverse circumstances, revealing affection without sentimentalism, are first order.”

Vila-Sanjuán also talks about drug-addicts, political extremists, etc. who live in Barcelona and its greater area and can be found in this book.

The novel’s author, Manuel Calderón (Córdoba, 1957), is described as a philosophy graduate who has worked in the culture sections of right-leaning Spanish newspapers.

SOURCE: Casa del Libro (online); review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, July 11, 2015, p. 9 (printed edition)

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