A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

literature
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SWIFT AS DESIRE (article first published : 2001-11-17)

Swift as Desire by Laura Esquivel is one of the publications contained in this year’s Exclusive Books Publishers Choice, a compilation of 70 books which have been hand-selected as some of the finest on offer for the festive season.

Based in Mexico City, Laura Esquivel is the award-winning author of Like Water for Chocolate which has sold over four and a half million copies around the world in 35 languages.

Swift as Desire is her tribute to her father who was a telegraph operator and it’s a charming 230 page read written with much love and respect. I’m not sure where the line between fact and fiction is drawn – possibly the character Lluvia is Laura herself.

The book is translated from the Spanish by Stephen Lytle and I sense that a fair amount of subtlety may have been lost in the translation because the style is fairly pedantic and repetitive.

However, what it does do is introduce the reader to the fascinating world of the telegraph operator, a skill now defunct in today’s hi-tech communication technology. Good memories were needed to carry out the process of listening and recording a message letter by letter, only writing down a word once it had been formed before moving on to the gist of the rest of the message. The ability to “always stay just behind the incoming message”. And despite the non-involvement of actual handwriting in this form of communication, there were “good” writers and “bad” writers.

The book is essentially the love story of a young telegraph operator Júbilo and his Lucha (Esquivel’s father and mother?) who marry at an early age and continue to adore each other despite the tempestuous turns their lives take. One of the threats to their happiness is don Pedro, an unsavoury and powerful character who Júbilo crosses early on in life. Don Pedro becomes bent on wreaking revenge which he successfully does. Júbilo and Lucha also lose a child and the ensuing stress on the marriage is too great and they part.

The story is told from Lluvia’s point of view as she sits by her father’s deathbed. He is incapable of speech but his final days are lightened when she creates a makeshift telegraph machine so that he can communicate with his loved ones. Conversations then spark off memories in both their minds as Lluvia tries to bring about a reunion between her parents.

Published by Doubleday it retails at R154.




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart