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Written Lives    by Javier Marķas order for
Written Lives
by Javier Marķas
Order:  USA  Can
New Directions, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Okay, booklovers and prolific readers, here is a great little book to carry along down to the beach on the Gulf shores, to your vacation getaway in the mountains, or to your lawn-chair in your backyard for a relaxing afternoon.

Internationally renowned Spanish author Javier Marķas has served up a wonderful picnic buffet of biographical tidbits in which readers will discover strange and surprising things about some of the world's most famous writers.

These are not typical biographical essays about literary giants: instead these 26 mini-essays (included in a 193-page book) are fresh and idiosyncratic looks at everyone from Djuna Barnes and Yukio Mishima to Giuseppe Tomas di Lampedusa and Rudyard Kipling.

Readers are invited - through anecdotal vignettes - to reconsider (among others) the single-minded and taciturn William Faulkner, the temperamental and deferential Joseph Conrad, the pompous and profane James Joyce, and the circumlocutory and urbane Henry James. Readers can also take a fresh look at (among others) the impatient champion of women (and enigmatic scoundrel) Arthur Conan Doyle, the provocative and ironic Isak Dinesen, and the arrogantly silent Emily Brontė.

There are too many other gems (and too little space here) for a full accounting. Let it be succinctly said, though, that every included writer - squirming a bit under the masterful author's wry scrutiny - is a surprise. Never has so much wonderful entertainment been packed into such a small package. Written Lives is simply marvelous. Enjoy!

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