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Cervantes Street by Jaime Manrique

Cervantes Street (edition 2012)

by Jaime Manrique

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Title:Cervantes Street
Authors:Jaime Manrique
Info:Akashic Books (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Literature: U.S.

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Cervantes Street by Jaime Manrique




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A while back I read a book review where the reviewer said he'd never been able to get past the first few chapters of Don Quijote, but thought that Manrique's book was the right introduction to Cervantes' masterpiece. it piqued my interest, even though I've read Don Quijote several times in my lifetime. I am glad I went ahead and read this book.

This is a somewhat true and at times very humorous narration of the life of Cervantes. The story follows the interconnected lives of two writers- Miguel de Cervantes himself and the presumed author of the apocryphal second part of Don Quijote that led Cervantes to actually write his own sequel. The lives of these two authors are told in the first person in intercepted chapters. Cervantes' known life events are told by Manrique very well, embelished vividly in many interesting ways. He captures his continuous struggles to make a living and become a successful and well known author, while often getting in trouble with the law. And Manrique invents Luis Lara, the character who writes the second Don Quijote under the name of Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda. He adds the interesting twist that both Miguel and Luis were friends in their youth, even though Luis was a nobleman while Cervantes was a commoner of (questionable) Jewish origin. But Luis comes to hate Miguel and spends the rest of his life thinking of ways to destroy Miguel. ( )
  xieouyang | Dec 6, 2012 |
Brilliant, spellbinding from beginning to end, makes you think you're living in an extension of the universe imagined by Cervantes in Don Quixote.

The book has alternating chapters. Half of them are in the first person by Cervantes and tell his life story from birth to death, focusing on his fleeing from Spain following a bar room brawl, coming to Italy, fighting in the battle of Lepanto, and his time in captivity in Algiers. Many of the elements and characters he encounters are refashioned into Don Quixote, although the persiod when he was in and out of jail and writing his masterpiece basically take place off stage.

The other half of the chapters are primarily by what I believe is a fictional character, Luis Lara, a wealthy aristocrat who befriends Cervantes, ultimately becomes obsessively jealous of him, and writes the famous, false Don Quixote Part II--an unauthorized sequel to Don Quixote that appeared prior to Cervantes own continuation. Luis is fascinating because he feels his greater education and literary background make him superior to Cervantes gutter humor. The final chapter is narrated by Luis's servant--which gives yet another perspective on the entire story.

Cervantes Street can be read as a fast-paced adventure story, a running commentary on Don Quixote, a historical biopic, or an interesting piece of speculative fiction. The writing itself is extremely good and is sprinkled throughout with borrowing from Don Quixote and other Cervantes writing which are woven effortlessly into the original novel itself.

Reading it is sending me right back to Don Quixote for a third time. ( )
  jasonlf | Nov 17, 2012 |
Jaime Manrique's Cervantes Street (Akashic Books, 2012) is a grand old-fashioned picaresque tale with some modern twists thrown in. Manrique has ably reconstructed the Golden Age of Spain, telling the story of one the world's greatest storytellers, Miguel de Cervantes. But there's more. Manrique has created here a vicious arch-rival in Luis de Lara, a man driven by a long-ago slight to destroy Cervantes and all he creates.

A very enjoyable send-up to the Quixote-esque novel. ( )
  JBD1 | Sep 4, 2012 |
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After nearly killing a man in a swordfight, Miguel de Cervantes flees into a life of adventures that eventually lead him to a village in La Mancha where he will write "Don Quixote," and attract the enmity of an imitator.

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