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The Speed of Light

by Javier Cercas

A novel about the horror of war and its aftermath, of love and loyalty between families and friends. A young Spanish would-be writer moves to mid west USA and meets the mysterious Rodney Falk. Rodney has survived his military service in Vietnam but is something of an enigma. When he disappears, the story of his past starts to unfold. An intense and intriguing book.

Extract

'My name's Rodney Falk,' he said, looking me in the eye with disconcerting intensity and making a noise that sounded like a martial click of the heels, 'And you?' I told him my name. Rodney asked me if I was Spanish. I told him I was. 'I've never been to Spain,' he declared. 'But one day I'd like to see it. Have you read Hemingway?' I'd barely read Hemingway, or I'd read him carelessly and my notion of the American writer fitted into a pitiful snapshot of a washed-up, swaggering, alcoholic old man, friend to flamenco dancers and bull fighters, who spread a postcard image of the oldest and most unbearable stereotypes of Spain through his outmoded works. 'Yes,' I answered, relieved at that hint of a literary conversation and, since I must have seen another magnificent opportunity to make clear to my colleagues my unimpeachable cosmopolitan calling, ... I added: 'Frankly, I think he's shit.' ... Without any gesture of disapproval or agreement, as if I'd suddenly disappeared from view, Rodney turned around and left me standing there in mid sentence; then he sat back down, picked up his book and immersed himself in it again.
Translated by Anne McLean

Parallels

The Deerhunter - the film
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
 

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