Cervantes Street: A Novel

Cervantes Street: A Novel

by Jaime Manrique

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617751400
Publisher: Akashic
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 325
File size: 469 KB

About the Author

Jaime Manrique is a novelist, essayist, and poet who lives in New York. His critically acclaimed novels include Colombian Gold, Latin Moon in Manhattan, and Our Lives are the Rivers.

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Cervantes Street 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
Cer­vantes Street by Jaime Man­rique is a historical-fiction novel about Miguel de Cer­vantes Saavedra’s jour­ney to write Don Quixote. The book is pep­pered with lit­er­ary ref­er­ences to Cer­vantes’ works as well as works of the time, while I didn't get many I did enjoy learn­ing about them After the huge suc­cess of Don Quixote, a sec­ond part not writ­ten by Cer­vantes appears. The book is writ­ten by some­one who uses the nom de plume Alonso Fer­nán­dez de Avel­laneda and prompts Cer­vantes to write his own “Book II”. Who is Alonso Fer­nán­dez de Avel­laneda and why did he write the mys­te­ri­ous novel? To find out the reader goes on a jour­ney with Cer­vantes, from his escapes after killing a man (who insulted his Jew­ish ances­try), to his stud­ies in Madrid, his pas­sion of poetry, life in Rome and fight­ing in the bat­tle of Lep­anto. We trudge through years of slav­ery in Algiers (the story being told as a side tale in Don Quixote) as well as through his life back in Spain, where the famous author loves, loses and finally sits down to write his masterpiece I am a big fan of Don Quixote, prob­a­bly more to the nos­tal­gia asso­ci­ated with the story from my child­hood than any­thing to do with the clas­sic story. How­ever, when I did read the full length novel (both parts) I under­stood why the book has become such a lit­er­ary classic. Unfor­tu­nately, many read­ers get daunted by the sheer size of Don Quixote. The sto­ries in the clas­sic tale need knowl­edge of the time’s pop-culture in order to fully enjoy the read­ing expe­ri­ence. How­ever, the same could be said for Shake­speare and sev­eral other authors from the far and not-so-far past. For those read­ers who are over­whelmed by the size of the clas­sic book, Cer­vantes Street by Jaime Man­rique is the per­fect intro­duc­tion. The novel is excit­ing, paced well, inter­est­ing and with a lit­er­ary mys­tery to boot. The “mys­tery” is quite easy to fig­ure out but it’s the way we get to the end which makes the jour­ney worth taking. Mr. Man­rique took an inter­est­ing life, gave it depth and nar­ra­tive which shows great skill. The book is an excit­ing voy­age where the lit­er­ary pay­off (both in the book and for the reader) is worth the invest­ment and the old world in all its vivid­ness and cru­elty comes alive. The author takes great care in assim­i­lat­ing some of Spain’s great­est poets into the story as well as weav­ing some of Don Quixote’s leg­ends to the nar­ra­tive. Many of the poets men­tioned I did not rec­og­nize (I did read with inter­est the “Note to the Reader” sec­tion) how­ever I did enjoy the lit­er­ary license Mr. Man­rique took to tell the story. To write a good book you need a good heart is one of the lessons learned from this book, but there are other pro­found insights, not the least of them are about reli­gion and des­tiny. We are respon­si­ble for our own future, we build our lives and we destroy them but it’s never too late, after all Cer­vantes was a dis­mal fail­ure at every­thing he tried until he wrote Don Quixote at age 59. The book is com­pact yet con­sis­tent with the life of Cer­vantes, Mr. Man­rique man­ages to employ his imag­i­na­tion to cre­ate a rich envi­ron­ment and a grip­ping adven­ture. The char­ac­ters are won­der­fully inven­tive and charm­ing; they all have their flows, their hearts and their assets with them, which makes the book real and engaging.