Saturday, April 16, 2005

On Tuesday, I arrived home to find a mysterious package lying between the two sets of double doors leading into the apartment; someone had pushed it through the mail slot.

Actually, it wasn't so mysterious. It was a bag from Akademibokhandeln containing a book, The Shadow of the Wind, and having just discussed the book with C., the fashion photographer, I knew it was from him, which a phonecall confirmed. He had seen an English copy of the book and had bought it for me; a true friend, C.

It isn't a particularly profound book, and while it's translated from the Spanish - the book has been a huge success in Spain - I doubt that even in the original is the language terribly compelling. It's a convoluted love story that curls in and in and in on itself. It's a love letter to Barcelona as well as a love story.

That is what gets me, the way it evokes the city, even if the translation uses the Castilian instead of the Catalan names for the streets. Carrer Ferran, Carrer Balmes, Carrer Escudellers, Carrer Princesa, the main post office on Via Laietana, Santa Maria del Mar, Barceloneta, Els Encants flea market, Parc Guëll, Plaza de San Felipe Neri, Mompou and Puig i Cadafalch. It's all there in the book, and it hits me like cold water. I lived in Barcelona once.

Do you have a city that is tied up with all the most difficult and painful and wonderful things you know and feel about yourself, a place that just in and of itself fills you with great yearning and makes your pulse quicken, that you love like no other, and hate like no other?

I have Barcelona.

(The book is making me crazy, but in a good way.)

The Swedish word for the day is längtan. It means longing.

- by Francis S.

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