Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lit Nit Wit: Guernica

Ok by now looking at previous Lit Nit Wits, it's fairly obvious I have a thing for World War 2 era books, and also you know recently I was in Italy, but what did I forget to pack?? A book! Not exactly the worst thing in the world but then I needed one for the travelling and the queuing etc etc.

So I was in the Oxfam book shop in cork (its a lovely dainty shop and the selection has kept me happy so far) and I came across the book Guernica. Now I've heard of the Spanish dictator Franco, he's is often mentioned in the background of my WW2 books, but I've never sat down and read one that takes place in Spain, till now.

The books starts in the year 1939, the town of Guernica was attacked a few years before and we follow Justo Ansotegui around the market, he observes the men playing cards and the women complaining about the food in the market that they cannot afford anyway. It is clear all Justo has faced trauma and the war cost him dearly, he has only one arm and was once known as the strongest man in the area, all this is very intriguing as we wonder what has this man  and this town endured under Franco. These People are Basque something they are proud of, but it is evident they are not too profess this (my knowledge on the Basque people was limited when I started reading but the Author Dave Boling teaches enough that you have a better understanding as the book progresses without inundating the reader with information)

The book goes back in time to when Justo was a child and tells the story of him and his brothers, growing up, becoming men, what the two younger brothers do when they leave the farm whom they marry, then the story leans on the next generation of children and their lives. The feeling of close family bonds and love are prominent factors in this story and what people in the early 1900's did for entertainment and what they did to survive.

I am really not the best when it comes to reading attacks on people/towns etc (you'd think the opposite with the amount of books I read...but nope, its all fairly traumitising for me).
However Dave Boling does do a remarkable job, it the best and worst way possible the visuals are remarkable and I did get a bit emotional in the Italian airport like an eejit, but anyway I felt he handled the writing of an actual event very well.

The next part of the story explains how people survive a trauma such as the attack on their town, dealing with what they have lost and how they will survive this.

Also the ending!! Oh the ending made me so so happy, it made up for the destroying of the town for me it was totally unexpected and usually I can totally see things coming.

Another interesting part of this book is Picasso is mentioned in the story sporadically. He actually painted an interpretation of the attack. It's not one of his most famous works to my knowledge but it is something to behold.

I think this is a great book and it caused me to really want to learn more about Franco and the war in Spain, which may be dwarfed by WW2.