Esperando a Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Took me over a month to finish this book – I looked for whatever pretext to read something else (poetry, theater, short stories, zombie books, anything) ’cause by reading this at times I wanted to vomit. Fictionalized biography, huh? How the F can you put in a frigging book thoughts that Robert Capa was thinking the moment he stepped on an anti-infantry land mine, that David Seymour thought while he awaited execution by the Egyptian death squad etc? And how the F did she know the way Capa usually screamed while he was having an orgasm? He died before she was born!

Actually, despite the name, it’s not a book about Robert Capa – it is about Gerda Taro, his girlfriend in the times of Spanish civil war, who died in the battlefield – and not in an easy way. A big funeral in Paris, and all the world press wrote about it – good summary below. Oh, not in an easy way. But I guess I could’ve learnt all that just in wiki.

The first two thirds of his book are as follows: c-r-a-p, worst book ever. Cheap sensationalism and bad (imho) writing. The last third got better, mostly due to less romance (brrrr) and more civil war stuff.

Overall – don’t read the Spanish original, don’t read the newly issued English translation. When a writer permits herself cheap sensationalism like this, I want to scream.

“Capa no lo sabía, pero allí le esperaba la foto de su vida. Una imagen que lo haría famoso, que daría la vuelta al mundo en las portadas de las principales revistas, que se convertiría en un auténtico icono del siglo XX.”

“Fue entonces cuando Capa supo, con la certidumbre seca de una revelación, que no sería capaz de soportar la vida sin ella.”

PS: too bad I have a habit of trying to read novels till the end, it’s a truly gruesome task sometimes.

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The Russian Journal by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck’s the Russian Journal turned out to be absolute fun to read – both style and content. The guy is witty, and witty and smart-alec is what we like.

And, man, looks like certain things will never change around here

His problem was this: his chauffeur drove him very well, but when he was not driving him, he was driving anyone else who was willing to pay a hundred roubles for a short trip. His chauffeur was getting very rich, and the car was taking a beating. There was nothing to do about it, for if he complained his chauffeur was likely to sulk a little bit, and when his chauffeur sulked, something went wrong with his car, and when something went wrong with his car, it was laid up in a garage for two or three weeks. It was better to keep his chauffeur happy if he wanted to be driven in his own car at all. He had tried getting other chauffeurs, but always the same thing happened.

Also, I guess under current circumstances, post a small war that took place exactly 60 years after this book was written, the praise of Georgia as the best place in the FSU looks a bit sad – but it is what it is.

“The people of Georgia seemed to us more relaxed than any we had seen so far, relaxed, and fierce, and full of joy. And perhaps this is why the Russians admire them so. Perhaps this is the way they would like to be.”

“It is a magical place, Georgia, and it becomes dream-like the moment you have left it. And the people are magic people. It is true that they have one of the richest and most beautiful countries in the world, and they live up to it. And we understood thoroughly now why Russians had always said to us, “Until you have seen Georgia, you have seen nothing.””

Given I read this on Stanza and not in paper, I am now after my Capa’s Phaidon portfolio book to check out on the Russian pics. And – I know what I’m gonna try to read next now – Esperando a Robert Capa by Susana Fortes, Capa’s recent fictionalized biography.