The Angel's Game

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Doubleday, (6/16/2009)
Language:English



Average Rating:
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3.38 out of 5 (8 Clubie's ratings)


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In the turbulent and mysterious Barcelona of the 1920s, David Martin, a young novelist obsessed with a forbidden love, receives an offer from an enigmatic publisher to write a book like no other before — a book for which “people will live and die.” In return, he is promised a fortune and, perhaps, much more.

Once again, the author of The Shadow of the Wind takes us into the gothic universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance and tragedy, and a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets where the magic of books, passion and friendship blend into a masterful story.
 
 

Unscribbler's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:12/7/2009



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Alice_Wonder's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:10/17/2009



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Reese's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:10/1/2009

How can you not like a book that has a place called the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, I wish there had been more written about it. What a great place! And that is just a tiny sample of the intrigue in The Angel’s Game. I did enjoy this book as it kept you moving with murder, love, obsession, the unknown, smoke and mirrors, and ultimately some serious questions as to what I just read(I love discussion). Set in Barcelona, Spain, Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes an excellent and smooth read, where he takes us on an adventure centered in the world and “souls” of books and some passionate characters. Oh, and a looming house full of secrets and shadows that in itself becomes quite the character. Leaves you wondering! The main character David Martin is tragic, yet he kept you hopeful that his tragedy turned into salvation in the end...but alas I'm not sure what happened in the end!!! (And I think he loved the wrong women). David’s relationship with some of the key characters helped make the book flow, especially, Isabella, his assistant, Sempere, the book shop keeper, Don PedroVidal, his mentor/faux rival and even the Boss. (I’ll leave that one to your imagination). All interesting characters. Oh and let’s not forget Detective Grandes! While the book actually became a faster read in the last 100 plus pages building momentum to understanding...with every page there were things that happened that made me say, What part did I miss? But oddly I don't think that detracts from the book at all. >

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Sam's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:9/30/2009

Wait, wait, wait…what just happened? I’ve just finished The Angel’s Game, and I’m left scratching my head, and wondering where I lost track of what was going on in the story. It must have been some time after page 350. Up until then, I was very interested in the characters, particularly the leading man David Martin and his wealthy guardian, and completely engrossed in the plot. This book has a cast of thousands and multiple story lines, and at some point (some critical point), I lost all track of them. As I read the epilogue, I searched for the true meaning behind the book, or at least a glimpse of explanation of the events that had occurred, but I came up empty handed. Too many things were left hanging in The Angel’s Game. I loved the first half of the book, but found the second half to be very disappointing. Then again, maybe I just don’t get it? What’s your take on it? Who was David Martin, really?

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Ceci's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:9/30/2009

This is a story about David Martin’s salvation. Or possibly his damnation. If you like a story with a clear resolution and a shiny, happy ending this may not be your book. If you appreciate the tense anticipation of wondering what might be lurking around the corner, roaming in the dark through a crumbling urban landscape, and the “Russian roulette of literature,” then I think you will find this book worth reading. It’s a book that takes books – and the art of storytelling – very seriously. It has twists and turns and pimples breaking out on subplots, and it has a phonebook size cast of characters coming and going, but once I settled in, the book turned out to be a good, old-fashioned page-turner with some mildly thought provoking reflections on the nature of writing, literature and religion, and a mind-twisting ending that asks you to reconsider everything you just read. While I sometimes found myself laughing at the sheer craziness of the plot, it was still compelling. The scenes are so vividly written and smartly paced that they practically play out in front of your eyes like panels in a comic strip or scenes from a film. All in all, it was definitely fun reading this book, sort of like well-written pulp fiction. I also can’t help but appreciate a story that is premised on the sanctity of the book (hey, this is a “book” club!). David is instructed that, “upon adopting a book you undertake to protect it and do all you can to ensure it is never lost.” In that spirit, I say to you, give this one a try!

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Nick's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:9/30/2009

Props to Carlos! There are SOO few books that aren't completely predictable. This one definitely keeps you guessing! You never quite knew what was gonna happen next in this story - and that rocks! Though with all the stories and side tracks going on, that quote from the movie "Clue" just kept going through my head where Wadsworth says, "To make a long story short..." and the rest of the crowd interrupts with "Too late!" ;) Although "The Angel's Game" went on a tad long and tangenty, there is SURE to be some great dialogue generated from this book at book club! It's definitely a book that will make you think if you take the time to. Random fabulous thoughts make this book a definite winner!

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Book Junky's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:9/29/2009

Perhaps I am a tad slow, but the story left me saying, "Heh?" That's right, not, "Huh?" but "Heh?"... I loved the writing and really did enjoy reading this, but I felt like a lot of things wrapped up and I was not exactly clear what happened. The dialogue between the boss and David was VERY interesting, but I imagine a lot of people are not going to like it. But for me that was my favorite part. Overall, interesting read and if it was not so freakin long I would reread it just so I could "get it" a tad more... Oh, and I'd advice reading it on a Kindle as the book is ha-eavy! Metaphorically and in weight. ;)

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Desiree Lascarro's thoughts on "The Angel's Game"
updated on:9/22/2009



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"The Angel's Game"
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Average Rating:
Unleash it
3.38 out of 5 (8 Clubie's ratings)


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
 
 

1. The novel begins with David’s recollection of the first time he tasted “the sweet poison of vanity” by writing for a living. How much of his career is fueled by vanity versus poverty? Why was it so difficult for him to heed Cristina’s warnings about selling out to greedy publishers?

2. Like Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s previous novel, The Angel’s Game is written in the first person. What does David reveal about his view of the world as he tells us his story? How might the novel have unfolded if it had been told from Andreas Corelli’s point of view?

3. Sempere influenced David’s life by giving him a copy of Great Expectations. Later returned to him by Corelli, the book still bore the bloody fingerprints of David’s father. How did David’s childhood resemble a Dickens novel? How was he affected by his parents’ history? How did books and booksellers save him? What is the most memorable book you received as a child?

4. Discuss the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, described especially vividly in chapter 20 (act one). What do the contents of the cemetery say about which books have long lives, and which ones are overlooked? What is required to honor the soul of a book, applying Sempere’s belief that a book absorbs the soul of its author and its readers?

5. What is the common thread in each of Corelli’s tactics for luring David? How did you interpret his “dream” of Chloé? What made David a vulnerable target?

6. What aspects of his identity does David have to leave behind when he becomes Ignatius B. Samson, author of City of the Damned (chapter 7, act one)? What does The Steps of Heaven say about who he wants to be and who Irene Sabino became?

7. How does Pedro Vidal justify his exploitation of David, stealing the woman he loves and capitalizing on David’s prowess as a writer? How did your opinion of Vidal shift throughout the novel? Does he redeem himself in chapter 22 (act three)? Describe someone whom you idolized early in your career who later proved to be untrustworthy.

8. In chapter 24 (act one), Corelli reveals his plan to David, describing religion as “a moral code that is expressed through legends, myths or any type of literary device.” Does this definition match your experience with religion? What do Lux Aeterna and Corelli’s project indicate about faith and the written word?

9. How did you react to the revelations about Ricardo Salvador at the end of chapter 14 (act three)? What had your theories been about Corelli’s network?

10. Explore the novel’s title. Ultimately, who are the angels in David’s world? What are the rules of Corelli’s game? Who are its winners?

11. Discuss Barcelona, especially the traces of renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, as if the city were a character in the novel. How do the tower house in Calle Flassaders (first described in chapter 8, act one) and Vidal’s Villa Helius, along with the cathedrals, cemeteries, the Ramblas, and other locales, set the tone for The Angel’s Game?

12. What is the effect of reading a novel about a novelist? What truths about the intersection of art and commerce are reflected in the story of Barrido & Escobillas and in their subsequent demise at the hands of an even more controlling publisher?

13. If you had been Inspector Víctor Grandes, would you have believed David’s story in chapters 18 and 19 (act three)?

14. How did you interpret the novel’s closing scene, particularly the presence of Cristina? Throughout the novel, how did David reconcile the ideal of Cristina with the realities of circumstance?

15. What is special about the bond between David and Isabella? What do they teach each other about love? If you have read The Shadow of the Wind, discuss your reactions to Daniel’s heritage, revealed in the epilogue.

Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
David is presented with the opportunity to redeem himself for some of his wrong doings at the end of the novel. Do you think he does redeem himself?

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Amazon.com Review
Book Description
From master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind, comes The Angel’s Game--a dazzling new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love.

“The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen...”

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed--a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

Once again, Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen in The Shadow of the Wind and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Through a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.


Carlos Ruiz Zafón on The Angel's Game

Years ago, when I began working on my fifth novel, The Shadow of the Wind, I started toying around with the idea of creating a fictional universe that would be articulated through four interconnected stories in which we would meet some of the same characters at different times in their lives, and see them from different perspectives where many plots and subplots would tie around in knots for the reader to untie. It sounds somewhat pretentious, but my idea was to add a twist to the story and provide the reader with what I hoped would be a stimulating and playful reading experience. Since these books were, in part, about the world of literature, books, reading and language, I thought it would be interesting to use the different novels to explore those themes through different angles and to add new layers to the meaning of the stories. 

At first I thought this could be done in one book, but soon I realized it would make Shadow of the Wind a monster novel, and in many ways, destroy the structure I was trying to design for it. I realized I would have to write four different novels. They would be stand-alone stories that could be read in any order. I saw them as a Chinese box of stories with four doors of entry, a labyrinth of fictions that could be explored in many directions, entirely or in parts, and that could provide the reader with an additional layer of enjoyment and play. These novels would have a central axis, the idea of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, set against the backdrop of a highly stylized, gothic and mysterious Barcelona. Since each novel was going to be complex and difficult to write, I decided to take one at a time and see how the experiment evolved on its own in an organic way.

It all sounds very complicated, but it is not. At the end of the day, these are just stories that share a universe, a tone and some central themes and characters. You don’t need to care or know about any of this stuff to enjoy them. One of the fun things about this process was it allowed me to give each book a different personality. Thus, if Shadow of the Wind is the nice, good girl in the family, The Angel’s Game would be the wicked gothic stepsister. Some readers often ask me if The Angel’s Game is a prequel or a sequel. The answer is: none of these things, and all of the above. Essentially The Angel’s Game is a new book, a stand-alone story that you can fully enjoy and understand on its own. But if you have already read The Shadow of the Wind, or you decide to read it afterwards, you’ll find new meanings and connections that I hope will enhance your experience with these characters and their adventures.

The Angel’s Game has many games inside, one of them with the reader. It is a book designed to make you step into the storytelling process and become a part of it. In other words, the wicked, gothic chick wants your blood. Beware. Maybe, without realizing, I ended up writing a monster book after all... Don’t say I didn’t warn you, courageous reader. I’ll see you on the other side. --Carlos Ruiz Zafón


(Photo © Isolde Ohlbaum)



From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Fans of Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel. In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David's creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house—a decrepit mansion with a sinister history—he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal's book is celebrated while David's is buried, and when Vidal marries David's great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself? Zafón's novel is detailed and vivid, and David's narration is charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (June) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

From Booklist
Zafón’s international best-seller, The Shadow of the Wind (2004), a book-steeped fantasia set in post–World War II Barcelona, introduced us to Daniel Sempere and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a secret library where books are guarded against oblivion. The Angel’s Game, a prequel of sorts set in the 1920s, features another Daniel—Daniel Martín—an orphan who learns the writing trade at a newspaper, then finds success with a pseudonymous series of gothic potboilers called City of the Damned. After his lone literary effort falls flat, his health failing, he accepts a commission from a mysterious publisher, Andreas Corelli, to write an audacious book for an astronomical sum—but soon has reason to suspect that his handshake deal is worse than any contract he has signed. Once again, Zafón proves himself a magician, vividly invoking bygone Barcelona while unscrolling a byzantine plot at breakneck pace. The crumbling houses, supernatural secrets, and emotionally responsive weather might be a bit much for some readers to digest, though for others it will be a feast. But what would have kept The Angel’s Game itself from being someday consigned to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books would have been a stronger connection between storybook evil and the real-life kind. While Zafón portrays Martín as a successful seller of entertainments who longs to be a serious scribe, his own unfinished thoughts about religion and totalitarianism show his priorities. Pity, because he seems the perfect author to help prove that serious stuff can also be entertaining as hell. --Keir Graff 

Review
Fans of Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel. In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David's creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house—a decrepit mansion with a sinister history—he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal's book is celebrated while David's is buried, and when Vidal marries David's great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself? Zafón's novel is detailed and vivid, and David's narration is charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (June) -- Publishers Weekly, starred Review

Another delicious supernatural mystery from bestselling Catalan author Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind, 2005).Mix Edgar Allan Poe with Jorge Luis Borges, intellectual mysterian Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and maybe add a dash of Stephen King, and you have some of the makings of Zafón's sensibility. Fans of his earlier book will be pleased to find themselves on patches of familiar ground, including a revisit to that wonderful conceit, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Indeed, this is a prequel–but only of a kind: Familiar figures turn up at points, only to seem less than familiar as the narrative twists and turns. The none-too-heroic hero, David Martín, is an aspiring journalist who bucks hackwork to turn in a crowd-pleasing series for a tough boss. This leads him into an onerous contract with the usua... --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition. 

Review
Fans of Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel. In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David’s creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house—a decrepit mansion with a sinister history—he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal’s book is celebrated while David’s is buried, and when Vidal marries David’s great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself? Zafón’s novel is detailed and vivid, and David’s narration is charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (June) -- Publishers Weekly, starred Review

Another delicious supernatural mystery from bestselling Catalan author Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind, 2005).Mix Edgar Allan Poe with Jorge Luis Borges, intellectual mysterian Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and maybe add a dash of Stephen King, and you have some of the makings of Zafón’s sensibility. Fans of his earlier book will be pleased to find themselves on patches of familiar ground, including a revisit to that wonderful conceit, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Indeed, this is a prequel–but only of a kind: Familiar figures turn up at points, only to seem less than familiar as the narrative twists and turns. The none-too-heroic hero, David Martín, is an aspiring journalist who bucks hackwork to turn in a crowd-pleasing series for a tough boss. This leads him into an onerous contract with the usual crooked publishers and, indirectly, into a rivalry with his former mentor–all of which, naturally, entails love triangles and smoldering egos. The picture is complicated by the arrival of another curious publisher, Andreas Corelli, who offers David piles of pesetas to write, well, a book of a different sort, involving research that yields piles of corpses and occasions ample cliffhangers. Zafón has a fine talent for inserting unexpected hitches into a story line already resistant to graphing, whose outcome is definitely not seen from afar. The plot resolves in a rush, for the author finds himself with many a loose end to tie up, but once it sinks in, the result is more than satisfying. Zafón delivers a warning about the dangers of obsession, mixed with an obvious passion for literature and the printed word; his book is also a song of love for Barcelona with all its creaking floorboards and hidden subbasements.A nice fit with the current craze for learned mysteries and for spooks of both the spying and the spectral kind. -- Kirkus Reviews


Praise for The Shadow of the Wind 

“One gorgeous read”—Stephen King

“Diabolically good”—Elle magazine 

“Superbly entertaining”—Washington Post

“Breathtaking”—New York Times

“Wondrous”—Entertainment Weekly

“Magic”—New York Times Book Review

“Absolutely marvelous”—Kirkus

“Infectious”—The Economist

“Outstanding”—Library Journal

“Lavish”—Booklist

“Gripping”—Philadelphia Inquirer 


How can we make BookBundlz even better? Tell us what you think would make this website teh best for book clubs, reading groups and book lovers alike!
 
 
 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting any one discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that mo ment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price. 

My first time came one faraway day in December 1917. I was seventeen and worked at The Voice of Industry, a newspaper that had seen bet ter days and now languished in a barn of a building that had once housed a sulfuric acid factory. The walls still oozed the corrosive vapor that ate away at furniture and clothes, sapping the spirits, consuming even the soles of shoes. The newspaper’s headquarters rose behind the forest of an gels and crosses of the Pueblo Nuevo cemetery; from afar, its outline merged with the mausoleums silhouetted against the horizon–a skyline stabbed by hundreds of chimneys and factories that wove a perpetual twilight of scarlet and black above Barcelona. 

On the night that was about to change the course of my life, the newspaper’s deputy editor, Don Basilio Moragas, saw fit to summon me, just before closing time, to the dark cubicle at the far end of the editorial staff room that doubled as his office and cigar den. Don Basilio was a forbidding- looking man with a bushy moustache who did not suffer fools and who subscribed to the theory that the liberal use of adverbs and adjectives was the mark of a pervert or someone with a vitamin deficiency. Any journalist prone to florid prose would be sent off to write fu neral notices for three weeks. If, after this penance, the culprit relapsed, Don Basilio would ship him off permanently to the "House and Home" pages. We were all terrified of him, and he knew it. 

"Did you call me, Don Basilio?" I ventured timidly. 

The deputy editor looked at me askance. I entered the office, which smelled of sweat and tobacco in that order. Ignoring my presence, Don Basilio continued to read through one of the articles lying on his table, a red pencil in hand. For a couple of minutes, he machine- gunned the text with corrections and amputations, muttering sharp comments as if I weren’t there. Not knowing what to do, and noticing a chair placed against the wall, I slid toward it. 

"Who said you could sit down?" muttered Don Basilio without raising his eyes from the text. 
I quickly stood up and held my breath. The deputy editor sighed, let his red pencil fall, and leaned back in his armchair, eyeing me as if I were some useless piece of junk. 

"I’ve been told that you write, Martin."

I gulped. When I opened my mouth only a ridiculous, reedy voice emerged. 

"A little, well, I don’t know, I mean, yes, I do write..."

"I hope you write better than you speak. And what do you write– if that’s not too much to ask?"

"Crime stories. I mean..."

"I get the idea."

The look Don Basilio gave me was priceless. If I’d said I devoted my time to sculpting figures for Nativity scenes out of fresh dung I would have drawn three times as much enthusiasm from him. He sighed again and shrugged his shoulders. 

"Vidal says you’re not altogether bad. He says you stand out."

"Of course, with the sort of competition in this neck of the woods, one doesn’t have to run very fast. Still, if Vidal says so."

Pedro Vidal was the star writer at The Voice of Industry. He penned a weekly column on crime and lurid events–the only thing worth read ing in the whole paper. He was also the author of a dozen modestly successful thrillers about gangsters in the Raval quarter carrying out bedroom intrigues with ladies of high society. Invariably dressed in im peccable silk suits and shiny Italian moccasins, Vidal had the looks and the manner of a matinee idol: fair hair always well combed, a pencil moustache, and the easy, generous smile of someone who feels comfortable in his own skin and at ease with the world. He belonged to a family whose forebears had made their pile in the Americas in the sugar business and, on their return to Barcelona, had bitten off a large chunk of the city’s electricity grid. His father, the patriarch of the clan, was one of the newspaper’s main shareholders, and Don Pedro used its offices as a playground to kill the tedium of never having worked out of necessity a single day in his life. It mattered little to him that the newspaper was losing money as quickly as the new automobiles that were beginning to circulate around Barcelona leaked oil: with its abundance of nobility, the Vidal dynasty was now busy collecting banks and plots of land the size of small principalities in the new part of town known as the Ensanche. 

Pedro Vidal was the first person to whom I had dared show rough drafts of my writing when, barely a child, I carried coffee and cigarettes round the staff room. He always had time for me: he read what I had written and gave me good advice. Eventually, he made me his assistant and would allow me to type out his drafts. It was he who told me that if I wanted to bet on the Russian roulette of literature, he was willing to help me and set me on the right path. True to his word, he had now thrown me into the clutches of Don Basilio, the newspaper’s Cerberus. 

"Vidal is a sentimentalist who still believes in those profoundly un-Spanish myths such as meritocracy or giving opportunities to those who deserve them rather than to the current favorite. Loaded as he is, he can allow himself to go around being a free spirit. If I had one hundredth of the cash he doesn’t even need I would have devoted my life to honing sonnets and little twittering nightingales would come to eat from my hand, captivated by my kindness and charm."

"Senor Vidal is a great man!"I protested. 

"He’s more than that. He’s a saint, because although you may look scruffy he’s been banging on at me for weeks about how talented and hardworking the office boy is. He knows that deep down I’m a softy and, besides, he’s assured me that if I give you this break he’ll present me with a box of Cuban cigars. And if Vidal says so, it’s as good as Moses coming down from the mountain with the lump of stone in his hand and the revealed truth shining from his forehead. So, to get to the point, because it’s Christmas and because I want your friend to shut up once and for all, I’m offering you a head start, against wind and tide."

"Thank you so much, Don Basilio. I promise you won’t regret it."

"Don’t get too carried away, boy. Let’s see, what do you think of the indiscriminate use of adjectives and adverbs?"

"I think it’s a disgrace and should be set down in the penal code,"I replied with the conviction of a zealot. 
Don Basilio nodded in approval. 

"You’re on the right track, Martin. Your priorities are clear. Those who make it in this business have priorities, not principles. This is the plan. Sit down and concentrate, because I’m not going to tell you twice."

The plan was as follows. For reasons that Don Basilio thought best not to set out in detail, the back page of the Sunday edition, which was traditionally reserved for a short story or a travel feature, had fallen through at the last minute. The content was to have been a fiery narrative in a patriotic vein about the exploits of Catalan medieval knights who saved Christianity and all that was decent under the sun, starting with the Holy Land and ending with the banks of our Llobregat delta. Unfortunately, the text had not arrived in time or, I suspected, Don Basilio simply didn’t want to publish it. This left us, only six hours be fore deadline, with no other substitute for the story than a full- page ad vertisement for whalebone corsets that guaranteed perfect hips and full immunity from the effects of buttery by-products. The editorial board had opted to take the bull by the horns and make the most of the liter ary excellence that permeated every corner of the newspaper. The problem would be overcome by publishing a four- column human interest piece for the entertainment and edification of our loyal family-oriented readership. The list of proven talent included ten names, none of which, needless to say, was mine. 

"Martin, my friend, circumstances have conspired so that not one of the champions on our payroll is on the premises or can be contacted in time. With disaster imminent, I have decided to give you your first crack at glory."

"You can count on me."

"I’m counting on five double-spaced pages in six hours, Don Edgar Allan Poe. Bring me a story, not a speech. If I want a sermon, I’ll go to Midnight Mass. Bring me a story I have not read before and, if I have read it, bring it to me so well written and narrated that I won’t even notice."

I was about to leave the room when Don Basilio got up, walked round his desk, and rested a hand, heavy and large as an anvil, on my shoulder. Only then, when I saw him close up, did I notice a twinkle in his eyes. 

"If the story is decent I’ll pay you ten pesetas. And if it’s better than decent and our readers like it, I’ll publish more."

"Any specific instructions, Don Basilio?"I asked.

"Yes. Don’t let me down."
. . . 
I spent the next six hours in a trance. I installed myself at a table that stood in the middle of the editorial room and was reserved for Vi...

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CARLOS RUIZ ZAFÓN, author of The Shadow of the Wind and other novels, is one of the world’s most read and best-loved writers. His work has been translated into more than forty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.


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Angel's Game

October 2009’s BB Book Club Book Pick:
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafonis

Set in Barcelona Spain, so we have choosen 3 wines from Spain to square off in our "wine off." The main character, David, is known to indulge in a little Spanish win on occasion, so why not us too? Let's see what Spain has to offer...

Creta

WINNER:
Creta 2006 - Tempranillo Red Wine
($20 or more category)
The 2006 Creta Tempranillo grapes are sourced from a single vineyard in Ribera del Duero, Spain. This wine was aged in both French and American oak and exhibits a full bodied, oaky, vanilla and drak fruit flavor.

Uncorking Rating:
Rated between "Uncork It" and "Very Uncorkable"

Alternative Tempranillo*:
Marques de Caceres 2005 Rioja Crianza Red - Tempranillo Red Wine

Creta

CLOSE SECOND:
Guelbenzu 2007 Red - Red Wine
($10 category... this was actually about $12)
This Spanish blend comes from a small 130 acre vineyard located on a beautiful gravel soil. A well paired wine that was very mellow, smooth and tasted great all on it's own.

Uncorking Rating:
"Uncork It"

Alternative*: (This wine tasted more Merlot than anything else, so here is another Merlot)
Clos du Bois Merlot 2004

Creta

THIRD:
Bodegas Ateca 2007 Atteca - Grenache Red Wine
($15 category)
This Spanish red was made with the Grenache grape. The wine was dry, tight and had a rustic quality right out of the bottle. It might open up if decanted. Definitely tasted better with food.

Uncorking Rating:
"Mildly Uncorkable"

Alternative Grenache*:
Yalumba 2007 Bushvine Grenache - Red Wine



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