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A silly babble-logue about Spain.
on April 27, 1999
Spain becomes grist for the cracked mill wheel of Cees Nooteboom's mind. The book isn't really about Spain, it's about the author and his obsessive fixation with certain Spanish topics. He does this with painfully long rambling descriptions of various Spanish cultural icons that have caught his attention, drilling down to the time when they first caught his attention and the many times since then that he has pondered them. The topics themselves are interesting but almost irrelevant to the self indulgent dredging of the author's own mind. You would learn more hard facts about these topics from a museum brochure. The twin pillars of this tortuously slow moving narrative are the painter Zurban and Romanesque architecture. He drops and picks up these topics at random, throughout the book, and prattles on about them as if he is possessed with a reoccurring fever. He also slathers his book with an impressive amount of trite clichés about Spain, Spain the land of contrasts, Castille La Mancha the land of desolate panoramas, etc. He goes on ad nauseum. He also plays a little fast and loose with the few historical facts he deigns to use. He states that the aqueduct in Segovia was used until 1974; according to Segovia's municipal web site it is still in use. He states that Pizzaro left from Extremadura with an invasion force for Peru; Pizzaro left from Central America where he had been established for some years. Obviously no fact checker touched this book before publication. There are many wonderful books about Spain. This isn't one of them.