Last night I wrapped up my discussions of Arturo Perez Reverte's We We Become with my new book club at San Marco Books and More in Jacksonville, Florida. It was our second meeting, all strangers brought together through the conduit of our passion for books.
Delving into a book that you otherwise would have never read on your own, learning about the author, the history, sharing opposing views and relishing "a-ha" moments, this is the stuff that makes book clubs great.
What We Become posited many themes, including trust, class, politics and love. It offered intrigue, tough sexual encounters and the experience of being transported to Nice during the late 30's and Sorrento during the Cold War.
Chess, the tango, deception and trios enriched the storyline. The book is brimming with characters, plots, pearls, trains and, yeesh, such smoking and ashes everywhere. Apparently from the 1930s to the 1950s, everyone is a chimney.
Translated works present quandaries and What We Become stands as a good example, originally published in Spanish. Did we truly read his words? Was something lost?
Penultimately We We Become is about accepting the landscape of one's life with serenity.
Books also offer reflection on and escape from our tumultuous times. Reading and discussing books acts as an elixir, broadening our understanding of another's sensibility, opinion and thought process. Reverte finds great solace in books as he has seen a brutal world, spending over 20 years as a war correspondent. Thus, he would practically give books sainthood status, and of course, I am all for that.
In a nutshell, reading connects, literacy is key to understanding others, ourselves, civilizations of now and the past and what we may become. Reverte states, albeit badly translated, in a 2012 interview:
Looking forward to more books, more learning, more understanding,