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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guernica by Dave Boling

When I started reading Guernica by Dave Boling, I didn’t know much about the Basques. I knew where the Basques were located, I knew a wee little bit about Basque fishermen and had heard of Basque sheepherders, but for the most part, I was completely ignorant. Guernica is such an extraordinary novel. This book is part love story, part wartime novel with political intrigue and history brought to life.

I was confused, when occasionally the author would seemingly arbitrarily insert a paragraph or two about Picasso, or von Richthofen also known as The Red Baron. Since I really didn’t know what the book was about, I read on, only slightly distracted by these odd lapses. I came to love the people of Guernica, their heart, their joy, their people. I was angered by the suppression they suffered under Franco’s totalitarian control. Then, the occasional mention of von Richthofen became understandable, as did Picasso’s. The attack on Guernica was heartbreaking to read about. The author did such a superb job of bringing these people to life, that it was like losing friends.

I found myself wondering why my history teachers had never mentioned this atrocity. I headed off to my computer and googled like a mad woman. I’ve never before understood any of Picasso’s art, but when I looked at the mural he called Guernica, I could see what he was saying. Picasso’s mural is a powerful reminder of this terrible attack. Dave Boling’s wonderful book is a testament and tribute to all who died there and to all who lived and rebuilt their lives. Guernica is one of the best books I’ve read all year.


Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! I've got it in the stacks. It sounds like I need to move it closer to the top.