Yes, I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. The hot weather is keeping in indoors, so I’m making the best of it and working through the stack of unread books on my nightstand. This latest read, Family Album, by Gabriela Aleman, was definitely worth my time. It was an impulse purchase when I was browsing the City Lights Bookstore website.
This collection of eight stories, all translated from Spanish, were eclectic and entertaining. Aleman’s prose, at least, the translated version, is poetic and almost conversational. In fact, her writing reminds me of the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez, another Spanish-language writer whose stories I adore.
The stores are filled with magic-realism. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it when the stories are almost mundane slices-of-life, populated with real people, but there’s touch of something uncanny in them. Not necessarily supernatural, but a bit of the fantastic, the etherial. Reading stories like these reminds me that real life is filled with moments of magic, even if we don’t always notice them.
The stories in Family Album are sad, funny, heartwarming, and mysterious. I enjoyed being taken on trips back a few decades, or skipping around through a few Latin American countries, and having mysteries unfold before my eyes.
I think this is a solid collection of stories that gave me a glimpse into Ecuadorian culture. Whether I was reading about diving for sunken treasure, a battle with an indigenous tribe for their land, or a mysterious woman who wasn’t what she claimed to be, I was transported to these places and watched as these magical stories unfolded.
This book would be a great read for a day at the beach, sitting on the back patio on a weekend afternoon, or, as in my case, laying on the sofa under a ceiling fan on an extremely hot day.