How Well Do You Know Clarissa: My Favorite Book

OK, let’s continue our game that we started last year.

My most favorite novel in Spanish starts with the following words that just slaughtered me the first time I read them:

A. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

B. “I came to Comala because I had been told that my father, a man named Pedro Páramo, lived there. It was my mother who told me. And I had promised her that after she died I would go see him. I squeezed her hands as a sign I would do it. She was near death, and I would have promised her anything. “Don’t fail to go see him,” she had insisted. “Some call him one thing, some another. I’m sure he will want to know you.”

C. “Barrabás came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy. She was already in the habit of writing down important matters, and afterward, when she was mute, she also recorded trivialities, never suspecting that fifty years later I would use her notebooks to reclaim the past and overcome terrors of my own.”

D. “Augusto appeared at the door of his house and held out his right hand with the palm downward. Turning his eyes towards the sky he remained for a moment fixed in that august and statuesque attitude. This did not signify that he was taking possession of the external world; he was merely looking to see if it was raining.”

E. “harsh homeland, the falsest, most miserable imaginable, I shall never return to you: with eyes still closed, it is there before you, enveloped in the blurry ubiquity of sleep and thus invisible, but nonetheless cleverly and subtly suggested, foreshortened and far in the distance: with even the tiniest details recognizable, outlined, as you yourself admit, with such scrupulous accuracy as to border on the maniacal.”

Bonus points for guessing the second most favorite novel.

Bonus bonus points for naming the one I hate the most.

The answers to the previous rounds are under the fold.

I started living with N. on our second date. That was 4 days after we met.

And when N. wants to do something romantic for me, he gives me peaches.

17 thoughts on “How Well Do You Know Clarissa: My Favorite Book”

  1. My personal favourite is A, from ‘100 Years of Solitude’ – love that book.

    E irritates the hell out of me. I don’t know which books the other passages come from so I can’t suggest which novels you like and dislike. However, I’ll guess that A is your favourite, C is your second favourite and you hate E.


  2. I know what your favourite novel (an excellent one) is, but let me guess the one you hate the most. C?

    How come you started living with N fort days after you met. You hide him in your apartment in Montreal?


    1. No, that wasn’t in Montreal. It was still in No Heaven. I moved to Montreal at the end of 1st month, then I went to R’s wedding, came back to N.H. and continued living with N. We never actually dated, it was always sharing a household.


      1. Oh, I see! I got the question about your sentimental life completely wrong.

        You bet I will use the expression “No Heaven” in my discussions about graduate school.


  3. I’m generally more into genre literature than ‘serious’ literature but I’ll give it a shot.

    A. Not seriously crazy about the author (have read two shorter books in the original and neither knocked me out, I have this too but haven’t got around to reading it yet….. I think you might like the thing about ice (given your affection for frozen water) but IIRC he’s kind of a jerk poltically (not sure how you much you separate the artist from the art)

    B. Interesting, wasn’t familiar with it, a sleeper nominee? (but the opening doesn’t grab me)

    C. Waaaaay to precious for me, I would probably avoid reading it in any version. But if you like 50’s little girl dresses it might be your kind of thing.

    D. I read this (in the original) many years ago (and probably missed a lot on general age and language reasons). Still, it’s great fun (especially when the narrator and protagonist meet…. (but the opening isn’t that catching).

    E. Now this is the most interesting opening to me. I’m not sure if I’d have the patience to read it all (especially if the prose continues this densely and directionlessly) but it’s the opening that stands out most for me. OTOH the author is pure evil of the kind I hate (nihilistically and childishly in favor of destruction for the sake of destruction) and I definitely have my limits on how much I can separate artists and their art.

    My guesses

    fave and second fave : B and D (in either order)

    most hated C! (Okay, I’m projecting there)


  4. I can’t help but participate in games like this. E strikes me as a deeply Russian kind of passage in its construction and its attitude — I’d never have guessed that it was composed in Spanish originally. I vote for this as your favorite, on the supposition that it speaks to some asymptotic nostalgia with which you grapple.

    I guess at D for your second favorite. I feel like this one doesn’t jump right into generic conventions, the way the first three do.

    I guess at B for the worst. Seriously? Acting on something you said to your dying mother? Who does this outside of old stories?

    No offense intended, in case I completely botched it and somehow offended you and/or your favorite novel.


  5. E. Juan Goytisolo, Reivindiación del conde don Julián, which you have said you like before and yes, this is the best of all the openings although I like some of the other books as well, especially B.

    I do not recognize D. I dislike C the most and I am betting you do, too. Bleah I cannot stand anything this writer has written.


  6. As someone pointed out earlier you dislike Marquez, so A for the one you hate most. I am guessing E for the one you like best because it seems to encapsulate how you feel about Ukraine. For your second favorite, I’ll just randomly choose D.


  7. Well I’m not too up on my Hispanic literature so I did have to do some Googling. But I am going to guess C is your least favorite. I am pretty sure that you have commented that you think Allende is overated……. I also know that you like Modernism so i’m guessing D is your favorite. And maybe E is your second favorite….mostly because you have also refuse to return to the country of your birth…..But that’s all pretty much a shot in the dark! 🙂


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