Book Notes: The End by Soledad Puértolas

A small disclaimer: I know everybody hates my Book Notes series because I only read Spanish books with no English translations these days. But I’m going on vacation next week and I promise I’ll read a bunch of books in English. I have a great lineup of books that you’ll like hearing about. In the meanwhile, it’s not such a horrible thing if you get a glimpse of what’s happening in the Spanish literature, right?

Author: Soledad Puértolas
Title: El fin
Language: Spanish
Year: 2015
My rating: 8 out of 10

Puértolas is another writer from Spain whose work I follow. This year she published a collection of short stories titled The End. These are stories where nothing whatsoever happens, and a careful reader will notice that the writer is doing it very consciously and even makes it clear that this is what she’s doing in the very first story.

As a result, the first few stories are really puzzling. You read them and think, “OK, nothing happens here. What’s the point of all this?” As you keep reading, though, it becomes clear that when taken all together, these short stories have an absolutely devastating impact. They can’t be read separately because they only work as a whole even though they don’t share characters, plot elements, narrative voice, setting, or anything else. It takes an incredible artistic talent to combine – in a very deliberate way  – a bunch of meaningless pieces and make them deliver such a massive punch in conjunction.

I’d gladly give the collection 10 out of 10 but there are 3 stories about dogs in it. And I hate dogs. Not even my great admiration for Puértolas’s enormous talent makes me get over my annoyance with the subject of dogs.

This is great literature, though. God, I love Spanish literature.

Her Wherever

I’m finding it extremely cute how people find “blood coming out of her wherever” oh so offensive but don’t see anything at all problematic with “no abortion rights even if it causes a woman’s death.”

Fucking hypocrites.

And even if “her wherever” is in reference to a vagina and menstrual blood, I’m not sure what’s so horrifying about that. It’s only disturbing if you think there’s anything wrong with menstrual blood and it shouldn’t be mentioned in polite company. Yes, it’s an idiotic remark of an aging hysteric but in terms of actual damage done to actual women, there wasn’t any candidate on that stage who had anything to teach Trump.

Also, before anybody accuses me of hating Megyn Kelly, I believe she is a sensationally beautiful and an extraordinarily successful woman. I disagree with her on everything but I admire her great achievement.

How Does Putin Feel About the Iran Deal?

People are asking if Putin has been defeated by the Iran deal. Of course, the deal will deliver yet another blow to Russia’s economy, but here’s the problem: Putin has never cared about this kind of thing.

In reality, the deal is a big win for him.

First of all, he achieved his greatest motivational dream that inspires everything he does: Americans asked for his permission to do the deal. Kerry lowered himself to traveling to Sochi and asking like a supplicant. This is what Putin lives for. What does he care about the economic well-being of Russians when he can finally get his heart’s greatest desire?

Also, Putin is very favorably inclined towards the Irani leadership. He likes Iran’s history of defying the US and winning. He shares Iran’s authoritarianism, likes the usefulness of religious fundamentalism, admires the subjection of women and gays, and enjoys the anti-Israel rhetoric. Any win for a regime of such a great affinity to Putin’s is pleasing to Russia’s leader.

This is a good moment for Putin right now. He has demonstrated to the world that he can do anything he wants, bomb, annex, invade, excoriate the US, and Americans will still come hat in hand, humbly begging for his support. He always articulated very clearly that this was his only goal.

None of this means that the Iran deal is a bad idea. But we need to understand what is actually happening if we are to have any impact on the world.

P.S. I don’t know if I need to mention this, but I don’t come up with these posts on my own. I read a lot of articles by political analysts who specialize in Russia before I reach any conclusion. I hate simplistic, knee-jerk responses to any complex phenomenon.

Trump ♥ Putin

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said he is confident he would “get along very well with Vladimir Putin,” despite the contentious relationship the Russian president has had with the United States in recent years.

“I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so. People say, ‘What do you mean?’ I think I would get along well with him,” Trump told reporters in Glasgow, Scotland.

And then people ask me why I think Putin wants a Republican to be the President of the US. George W. Bush adored him, looked deep into his eyes and treated him like the most important person on the planet. Trump is making overtures already. What’s not to like?