Los nombres

AUTHOR: Fedosy Santaella 
GENRE: Novela biográfica
READER’S NAME:  Michael Mahler 
DATE: April 23, 2017

We are all interested in names.  Names get our attention. “Call me Ishmael” begins one of our iconic stories. And “Don Quixote” such a powerful name, though an alias. Who cannot deny that it is one of the most recognizable names in history, a topic of literature, art, theater and film.

Comes now this gem of a book by Fedosy Santaella who brings us, the readers into his book by addressing us directly in his parenthetical asides where he tells us what is coming.  What follows is our author or raconteur bringing us into his world, the labyrinth of names.

This short novel, 164 pages, is divided into two parts, first Names among Book, considering names in literature and second Name among people where names become more personal.

No topic could be less universal.  Fedosy begins with a parenthesis to view Jose Luis Borges’ discussion of el Crátilo, one of Plato’s dialogues in which Socrates reaches the conclusion that names are the essence of the thing. A treat for me was the reference in the parenthesis to the Harvey Pekar Name Story.  I immediately went to Youtube and watched the clip delighting in Robert Crumb’s drawings.

Fedosy in the first part deals with his intellectual and literary links, weaving in stories of his own, his name, it’s history, famous namesakes and how it affects him.  Throughout this book, because of his intimacy with the reader, he motivates us to checkout our own names and to revisit our own books and works of art.

You cannot help but smile as you read this book.  Fedosy has a wonderful sense of humor.  In his chapter on El HOMBRE QUE LEIA he compares his father, Victor to his fictional character Vito Modesto Franklin.  He pictures his father as a Stan Laurel figure, but a man who reads and gives sound advice to his son and through him to us. His lesson is that the best achievements are made without a lot of noise.

The library is central to the author’s formation as a reader but now reading is in books, television, films, everything is reading, names and associations.

The second part of the book is more personal and Fedosy, the storyteller, chapter by chapter brings us into his family and inspires us to return to our own family stories.  He tells us that he is filling in what his aunts and his mother told him and shows how, with a mixture of fact and fiction, he paints a very realistic image of his people.

I loved reading this book and with every page I could see it translated into English. My former professor, Julian Marias, taught that there is quality of page and quality of book. This book is worth reading on both accounts.



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