Just floss and doubt God!

Few writers are capable of not repeating themes, motifs and scenarios in their novels. Joshua Ferris is one of them. His new novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (2014) is just as fresh and surprising as his other two, Then We Came to the End (2007) and The Unnamed (2010). The protagonist and narrator, Paul O’Rourke, and his feeling of inauthenticity pervade every word of the narrative. His successful dentist practice never helps him to be happy and find love and understanding in people around. Perhaps the book gets stuck on descriptions of the Ulms, Amalekites and Jews, taken from the non-existing “Cantaveticles” but it surely transmits the spirit of the 21st century: the virtual world, and how the virtual can become very real and authentic, even more real than the real real. It launches a clear critique of how the “me-machines” and the virtual space take over the human and the little humane we’ve got left.

Paul himself is a patchwork of different characters, the most obvious of which – that of the protagonist in High Fidelity, Rob Fleming. Losers have become fashionable in contemporary novels. Perhaps they make us feel a bit more successful and happy with the little we’ve got. Well, if it’s a lesson in how content I should be with my life, it surely works. Oh, and by the way, the dramatic device of stealing somebody’s identity on the internet – another thing that worked on my psychic and made me check my name on the web several times! Well done, Ferris!

Apart from that, I enjoyed the novel for its examination of religion and of the opposite of religion which proves to be only …”more religion” and nothing else. Identity is important, and happiness is somehow connected to it. Only one question, how come I’m happy with my identity even wthough it doesn’t make much sense?

Finally, trauma cannot fail to appear in post-(post-)modernist novels like the one here at hand. A rationalist reading of the novel would take on suicide as device that explains everything else.

Well, I should give the novel 5 stars cause it made me think, it made me as obsessed with stolen identity as Paul. I’ll give it 4 and a half stars * * * * 1/2* instead.


Time’s up!

Now I should really be writing something else; not a blog. But thought wanders. It cannot be stopped.

When deadlines pressure you, the only thing you want is to travel. Choose a closer destination. Easy, right?

It took us two years to go to Pamplona, a city that foreigners know for its “bull feasts” and Hemingway’s visits. Here is what the city offers, apart from its “famous stuff” ! I’ll make it top 5, just for kicks:

1. Tapas and food. Everywhere. For instance, San Nicolás and San Gregorio seem to be the most famous streets.

2. Walk along the city walls, up to the citadel.

3. Plaza del Castillo, especially on sunny days.

4. Plaza San Francisco.

5. The building of the city council, Plaza Consistorial.

And yes, I’m not mentioning the cathedral in my top 5, but it’s really nice place to go around. Inside, it’s a hogde-podge thing; its façade – so …Neo-classical. Yet, around the cathedral, it’s magical. Apart from the buildings and green areas, you can see “gigantes” and “cabezudos”, the latter beating people with a stick (!!!). There are “cabezudos” around Spain but I never saw the ones that hit people (according to wikipedia, these are called “kilikis”).

I learned that urban bus is called “villavesa” and that almost everything has its Basque name next to the Spanish one.

A weekend is just enough. Still… I think that the surroundings are worthy of seeing. Didn’t get the chance. Next time.

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The Pagoda

It’s become so terribly trendy (alliteration intended) to make a youtube-plus-blog review of this or that summer or winter read …that I couldn’t resist. Sorry if you expected #travelling or #holidays post. As I already said in a previous enry – literature is travelling.

So here I am, end of July, reading The Pagoda (1998).That’s Patricia Powell’s the third novel. Apart from being a sweet-looking lady, she a terrific writer!

When I first took the book in my hands (strange because I rarely buy the physical thing anymore), I noticed that there were not enough dialogues for a summer read. I started it and suddenly, out of the blue, I was devouring the pages, nearing the half of it. SUP? It’s not even humorous!

There is something else…

Well, of course, it’s about travelling, it’s about immigration. Yeah, THIS kind of travelling. But not only…being a Jamaican Powell writes about a Chinese immigrant’s experience on the island. Chinese immigrant, referred as “he”. Am I hearing some snorting? SHE (b. Jamaica), writes from the “pee oh vee” of a HE (b. China)? And she proves she can do it and does it beautifully. It’s an astonishing novel about multiple border-crossings. A real globetrotter.

But the subject-matter is not unique. There are also Trumpet (Jackie Kay), Middlesex (Eugenides) and I’m sure many more. Race + Sex/uality. The eternal topic. What is unique is the fluidity of language and the fluctuation between suspense and mystery. Also, the message that I got (so far): make your dreams come true, or, if you can’t, just try hard to.

Okay, it’s taking me a while to finish it…but so what? A book has to be savored, just like Cambridge (UK). 🙂

P.S.: There are NO SPOILERS in my post.

P.S.2: Cannot believe I just wrote that thing, about the “message”! Any talk about “messages” in fiction should be banned!

Quote "The Pagoda"

Southern France, Oh la la

There are summers when you just don’t feel like sightseeing…and you long for something that starts with the “N”…Nature, North, Near… rather than beaches, cathedrals, markets, far-away journeys, and so on.


So was the case with me last summer.

My trip-mate suggested Italy, Firenze, art, beautiful buildings… yet I chose something else.

Sometimes, iit’s just necessary to see green places, small places, cozy places, unspoilt places, nearby places, … far away from people, cars, polluted air, noise, you name it.

Souther France will give you everything. You just need a car and a mate.

Zaragoza – Oloron Sainte-Marie 220 km, 3 hours ride. You, the road, and the Pyrenees.

+ Chocolate Factory! Lindt 😉

+ jazz festival in summer.

+ Biarritz, nearby…

+ nice little villages: Navarrentx, Sauveterre de Bearn, Salies de Bearn!!!

…all of which deserve a visit, however short!

About time… Hi Portugal!


It’s been a while. But my head has never been emptied of travelling, dreams, and fantasies.

Some years ago, I visited Portugal. And now, Lisboa is my favourite capital in Europe! And fados, my favourite music.

Lisboa can be related to melancholy, decadence, past, memories…it’s a lovely city full of surprises waiting for you! O bairo de Alfama!!! Chiado! Very cheap to eat out, party, sightsee… And not just the city itself. You should see the surroundings!

Come on, people! Go to Lisboa! But don’t forget to see…

…Almada! Perfect for lunch 🙂 (take a ferry)

…Cascais! Sunny, welcoming beaches! (train to reach it)

…Sintra! Oh gosh… just everything in the town (perfect time for some shopping) and of course the palace, up there!

…Mosteiro dos Jerónimos!

…Belem! 🙂 eat the pastries!

I will definitely repeat soon. Or go there to live!!! Lisboa, antigua y hermosa…2012-08-30 11.16.19 P1060219 P1060255 P1060415 P1060378P1060367    P1060478

Let’s go to… Cambridge!

After my last entry on “audiovisual language activity”, it would be a shame if I don’t talk about this beautiful place.

I was in Cambridge …well, many times. Many, many, actually. First time, in 2004. I visited it thanks to a high school student exchange (I was underage back then haha… and crying over an innocent crush I had on a guy called Adrian).

Then again in 2007, when I took a three-weeks course in general English. (plus, another crush)

Then again in 2008 (several times) to visit friends.

Finally, I went to Cambridge University!!! Oh, wow! Oh, wow!!! This was January 2012, and I stayed there for 3 enjoyable months. (+ crush)

It’s my kind of town. Rich student atmosphere, delicious food in old pubs, great beer and night life, many bikes, students from all over the world…it’s small, cosy, calm and crazy!!! So, you have EVERYTHING there.

I wouldn’t go there to visit though. It’s a place to stay and savor sloooooooooowly.


Have a look.

ESL video: Cambridge

Yes. It’s me again. Earler in our famous course, we learned how to elaborate a “Audiovisual language activity” (Wow. Trends in education are faster than I am. 3 years ago I hadn’t heard about either “audiovisual” or “language activity” as pedagogical terms).

There is my first (quite bad) try: ESL VIDEO


P.S.: For people wondering what this entry is doing in a blog “supposedly” about travelling, the video is about Cambridge (loveliest town in UK!) and it kinda makes it “an entry about travelling” 🙂

Subtitle a video

So… to continue with the (exhausting) productive day: we are still lock up in the classroom, trying to generate subtitles to a video we’ve got in YouTube. That’s something! You cannot imagine how difficult it is to establish the correct time the subtitle appears!

Take a look at this really really bad version:

Of course, as a teacher you can use a song in your class, make students guess the lyrics (leave a gap), make them sing along (that’s naughty!!), etc.

Next step: improve my skills in subtitling YouTube videos.



Oh, and have a nice weekend 😀

Theatre workshop

Hi again. Today looks like a productive day.

That’s why I’d like to tell you about a personal experience. I love literature because literature is just another way of travelling (well, the same I can say about writing: writing is migration of your mind). The best strategy in teaching is through works of art: it gives kids not only the linguistic but also the intercultural skill.

A good idea to transmit the enthusiasm to know (let’s not forget that kids love new knowledge, encyclopedias, tales) is by means of story-telling combined with performance. Kids will get enthalled! Tell them a pirate tale: Gulliver’s Travels are a perfect example. You only need to adapt it. And choose a disguise, of course 🙂

English Literature-004

Good Morning! It’s July, time for holidays!

P1160970Hi guys. Today we will travel around the world using our imagination since, unfortunately, we are stuck in this classroom doing a summer course in language learning.

My name is Billy, and I’d like to take you for a quick visit to Seville. Seville is situated in Southern Spain, as you might already know. Known as the city of “azahar” scent, it will enchant you thanks to its views, essences, tastes… Let me present to you several pictures, illustrative of this lovely place (I warn you: I went there in february, so weather might seem a bit…let’s say unwelcoming.)