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Apples! Get your apples!

Spanish journalist Julio Camba shows us life in New York in the aftermath of the 1929 Great Crash.

Category: Cultura | 2 August, 2012
Editor: Daniel Vidal Hussey

Forests and thousands of trees burned down. Families left homeless. Friends who lose their jobs. Bills long overdue waiting to be paid. No-one can deny we are going through some difficult times. We live through them, we suffer through them, yet we get through them too. That is how we see our situation, but how would someone from outside see it? What would, for example, an American journalist write about us?

That’s exactly what Spanish writer and journalist Julio Camba did, but the other way around. In 1934 he went to New York in the aftermath of the crisis and began to write about what he saw. And everything he wittily wrote managed to get us smiling. How do he do it?

Ana Maria recently wrote about those years through Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. She focused on the treacherous journey of a family to find work and a place to call home. Unlike Steinbeck, in La Ciudad Automática, Camba focuses on the tiny curiosities of life in New York in after the Great Crash: In the Big Apple people begged by selling just that, apples. ”New York hates blacks, no doubt about it, but they hate them only from eight or nine o’clock in the morning until twelve o’clock at night” says Camba. He also tells us all about the dangers of becoming a millionaire in the big city.

And there are many many more sublime details that Camba cleverly detects, encodes in words, and sends out to us in a fresh and agile prose. Humor sips through every sentence and serves as an important structural element for many of his articles. It is by no means a simple chuckle to spruce up the text.

The book is divided into small articles, each of them two or three pages long. They are tiny bites of life that can be read in an afternoon at the beach and are sure to get you smiling with the air of optimism that blows through the whole book. An optimism that seems to say “Crisis? What crisis? Life is so much more than that!” In short, a perfect book to brush up on your Spanish and have an enjoyable nostalgic read.


La Ciudad Automática
Julio Camba

Category: Cultura | 2 August, 2012
Editor: Daniel Vidal Hussey




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