Synopses & Reviews
THE BAREFOOT MAN
... AND YET I'D swear that the position was the same-I think I've always slept this way, with my right arm underneath the pillow and my body turned slightly over onto that side, my feet searching for the place where the sheet is tucked in. What's more, if I close my eyes - and I end up closing them as a last, routine resort - I am visited by a long-familiar apparition, always the same: a parade of stars, each with a clown's face, that go soaring up like a balloon that's escaped and laugh with a frozen grin, following one after the other in a zigzag pattern, like spirals of smoke gradually becoming thicker and thicker. There are so many of them that in a little while there won't be any room left for them and they'll have to descend to seek more space in the riverbed of my blood, and then they'll be petals that the river carries away. At the moment they're rising in bunches. I see the minuscule face drawn in the center of each one of them, like a cherry pit surrounded by spangles. But what never changes is the tune that accompanies the ascent, a melody that can't be heard yet marks the beat, a special silence whose very denseness makes it count more than it would if it could be heard. This was the most typical thing back then too. I recognized that strange silence as being the prelude to something that was about to happen. I breathed slowly, I felt my insides pulsing, my ears buzzing, and my blood locked in. At any moment - where exactly? - that ascending multitude would fall and swell the invisible inner flow like an intravenous drug, capable of altering all my visions. And I was wide awake, awaiting the prodigious change, so lightning-quick that there was never a night when I managed to trap the very instant of its sudden stealthy appearance as I lay in wait there, watching for it eagerly and fearfully, just as I'm doing now.
But that's not true, it wasn't just the same, the exact feel of the waiting was different. I have said "eagerly and fearfully," just to hear myself talk, groping my way along blindly, and when one takes a shot at random that way, one never hits the bull's-eye. Words are for the light. At night they run away, though the heat of the chase is more f
Fiction. Cultural Writing. THE BACK ROOM was the first of Gaite's novels to appear in Spain after the death of Franco, and the first to be translated into English. In 1978 it was awarded Spain's National Prize for Literature. Translated from the Spanish by Helen Lane, THE BACK ROOM describes a woman's conversation with a nighttime guest, to whom she tells the story of a woman coming of age in the repressive Spain of the Franco era. An intimate and existential confession -- part autobiography, part fiction -- Gaite's finest work explores the back room of memory with a quiet but irresistible power. ...intensely serious, literary and wryly humorous... -- New York Times.
Winner of Spain's National Prize for Literature
In the middle of the night, a woman awakens to find a stranger in her bedroom. Though she cannot determine who he is--or, indeed, whether he is even real at all and not just an extension of her dreams or her writing--she is drawn into a conversation with her unexpected guest. What she tells him becomes the story of a woman coming of age in the repressive Spain of the Franco era.
In The Back Room Carmen Martin Gaite spins out a hypnotic evocation of one woman's life counterpointed against the social history of modern Spain. The growth of a personal identity and the terrors of fascism are woven together within the delicate fabric of this dreamlike narrative. The result is an intimate and existential confessional--part autobiography, part fiction. In direct and simple language, Martin Gaite envisions life within a world besieged. This, her finest work, explores the back room of memory with a quiet but irresistible power.
-The winner of Spain's 1978 National Prize for Literature, Gaite's postmodern novel interweaves dreams and fantasies with autobiography and Spanish history, resulting in a book that is complex and elusive, but more than worth the effort.---Publishers Weekly
-A serious, fascinating work, indeed a great novel...leaves its readers mesmerized.---ABC Literario
-Excellently plotted and written with that perfect simplicity that tends to escape notice and which has characterized Gaite's novels from the start...She has once again made the difficult art of writing into easy reading.---El Mundo
-...intensely serious, literary and wryly humorous, her] mesmerizing, labyrinthine sentences induce a sense of wandering the corridors and topiaried gardens of Marienbad.---Sunday Times
-Some of the cultural specifics in this 1978 novel from Spain--songs, doll furniture, movies--may be meaningful only for Spanish readers. But Martin Gaite's novel, the first in Columbia's new Twentieth Century Continental Fiction Program, is artful and engaging nonetheless, a book of intelligent moods modulating into one another.---Kirkus Reviews
Carmen Martin Gaite was one of Spain's leading novelists. She was the author of numerous works of fiction and criticism, including Variable Cloud and, most recently, The Farewell Angel. The Back Room was the first of her novels to appear in Spain after the death of Franco, and the first to be translated into English. In 1978 it was awarded Spain's National Prize for Literature.