So, the summer finally landed! Lola the puppy, Mrs Book and me went away this past weekend and visited the splendid Woodfest Wales. Happily, not much reading was done, but I did manage to finish Antonio Tabucchi's excellent Pereira Declares (which I've just quickly reviewed over at The Book Depository):
Antonio Tabucchi's Pereira Declares is set in the hot summer of 1938 in Salazar's Portugal. Franco and the Spanish Civil War, as well as the politics of everyday life in Portugal itself, haunt the pages. Dr. Pereira, with 30 years experience as a crime journalist, is now in charge of the culture page at Lisboa, a "second-rate evening newspaper." He studiously avoids politics and contents himself with translating 19th century French stories. But politics is very difficult to hide from. He reads an article by Monteiro Rossi, a young graduate, about death and decides to contact and hire him to write write advance obituaries on great writers for his culture page. Rossi and his girlfriend Marta are politically active pro-Republicans and slowly Dr Pereira gets drawn into helping them, mostly by advancing Rossi money for polemical, unpublishable articles. Despite his protestations, politics have wheedled their way into Pereira's blindly cultured life. An astonishingly vivid portrait of one man and his growing consciousness, Pereira Declares is wonderfully astute about the lies we tell ourselves. It is never quite clear whether the book, which peppers the text with the declarative intervention "Pereira declares...", is a police/bureaucratic report of Pereira's involvement with political undesirables or whether it is Pereira himself declaring himself to us. But the rhythm this recurring phrase adds to the book is vital: it brings our attention to the text as text and to the ever-present possibility of unreliability in everything that we read -- and the resonances of this back to Pereira hardly need underscoring. Exceptional.