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the Complete Review
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La buena letra

Rafael Chirbes

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Title: La buena letra
Author: Rafael Chirbes
Genre: Novel
Written: 1992
Length: 139 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: La buena letra - US
La belle écriture - France
Die schöne Schrift - Deutschland
La bella scrittura - Italia
La buena letra - España
  • La buena letra has not been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : small, fairly well-done book of looking back

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Die Welt A 17/4/1999 Elmar Krekeler
Die Zeit . 20/5/1999 Alexandra M. Kedves

  From the Reviews:
  • "Der Möglichkeiten, den schmalen Roman in Larmoyanz, in platter Provinzprosa, in einer der üblichen tödlichen Heldengeschichten ertrinken zu lassen, gibt es in Anas Geschichte genug. Chirbes, ein Meister des beiläufigen Erzählens, hat sie alle sorgsam umschifft. So wird Die schöne Schrift zu einer bis ins Mark gehenden und ihrer Hoffnungslosigkeit wegen erschütternden Chronik eines gescheiterten Lebens." - Elmar Krekeler, Die Welt

  • "Szene für Szene, Abschnitt um Abschnitt wie ein Gedicht konzentriert Chirbes' dritter Roman (span. 1992) das Bild der Zeit und hält sich doch immer an die Geschichten in der Geschichte, an den Blickwinkel der vereinsamten Frau. (...) Wo Antonio Muñoz Molina spottet, wird der Valenzianer ernst." - Alexandra M. Kedves, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       With La buena letra Rafael Chirbes offers another first-person narrative, another person reaching the end of life looking back. The narrator of the novel, Ana, is a fairly simple woman, never particularly eager to tell of her life. Now she chooses to revisit it, telling her life story to her son in brief episodes.
       It is a story filled with sadness, set largely in Franco Spain, her family inevitably affected by the ridiculous dictator's rule. Ana looks for some happy memories, but even the first, from childhood, is of her grandfather scaring her. He means well, but her fear is real. Tellingly, she also turns to him who scared her for comfort.
       Life is difficult, especially once the war begins. Clara's story has all the tragedies, fears, and small moments of joy that one might expect. Her married happiness is ultimately destroyed by politics that tear a family apart. Chirbes puts these brief episodes and scenes together quite well. Many are evocative, and quite well related. Still, it is very a dark novella. Like most of Chirbes' work it does not resound: it is almost eerily silent. It is the absence of hope, the complete resignation to approaching death that marks both this novel and Los disparos del Cazador (see our review).
       A good but sombre small sketch of Spanish life.

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La buena letra: Reviews: Other books by Rafael Chirbes under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author Rafael Chirbes lived 1949 to 2015.

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