"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Jul 9, 2009

Read Something! -- _Death In Spring_ (Merce Rodoreda)

("Read Something!" will be an ongoing series of posts in which I make public the readers' advisory notes I'm starting to keep on many of the books I read. I would greatly appreciate suggestions for other things to call this because I am very bad at naming things! ;) )

Death in Spring

(trans. Martha Tennent)
2009 (orig. published 1986 in Catalan)
150 pp.
Literary fiction


As a teenaged boy grows into a man, he struggles to come to grips with the strange, brutal rituals of his village and with his own increasingly marked sense of being an outsider. This dreamlike book explores love, desire, the individual's place in society, and the meaning of living.

Appeal characteristics

  • Pacing/Frame?: emphasis on language over plot
  • Pacing: plot moves very slowly
  • Pacing?: patterns and recurring images appear but are not explicated
  • Story line?: events themselves are often less important than what the narrator says about them?
  • Characterization: characters' emotions rarely shown; their actions are generally described without delving into their motivations (this goes for the main character too)
  • Frame?: heavy on metaphor and imagery
  • Frame: worldbuilding -- author creates a society
  • Frame: tone is heavy, serious; even somewhat depressing
  • Frame: first-person narrator
  • Frame?: most things are not laid out clearly for the reader; readers must be attentive, dig into the book, and think (and even then may not arrive at firm conclusions)
  • Frame: individual vs. society themes

Other notes

  • violence -- not particularly graphic, but often unusual and still disturbing

Similar titles/authors
  • W, or The Memory of Childhood (Georges Perec): similar building of an increasingly menacing and violent world with strange rituals; similar exploration of the darker side of human societies; similarly is meant to provoke thought more than tell a story; Perec and Rodoreda seem to both be interested in language (though Perec more in wordplay, Rodoreda more in evocative prose?); more complex plotting (there are multiple stories and part of the book is how they interact (or don't); faster pacing?; there is no central character in the main storyline of W

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