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To Walk Alone in the Crowd: A Novel von…
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To Walk Alone in the Crowd: A Novel (2021. Auflage)

von Antonio Munoz Molina (Autor), Guillermo Bleichmar (Übersetzer)

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Titel:To Walk Alone in the Crowd: A Novel
Autoren:Antonio Munoz Molina (Autor)
Weitere Autoren:Guillermo Bleichmar (Übersetzer)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2021), 432 pages
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To Walk Alone in the Crowd: A Novel von Antonio Muñoz Molina

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To Walk Alone in the Crowd by Antonio Munoz Molina and translated by Guillermo Bleichmar is a novel that is also part memoir(ish) and even part literary history. A reader will likely be unsure what to make of the collage-like text at first but there are so many ways into, and through, this book that finding your way will be rewarding.

Told in short sections with cliche like headings, usually from advertising or common usage, the connections are less readily noticeable at first than simply the flow of the mundane. This reads a lot like stream of consciousness at times but I would modify that description in this case. The lines that most resemble SOC are less from the narrators interior and more just a repetition of what he is seeing, hearing, and reading. In this way it is more like the narrator is reading to us, but not from a printed book but from the material that surrounds us every day and that we take for granted, or just outright ignore. Bringing it all into focus is where the magic happens in this book.

The collage aspect, just like the early beginnings of collage as an art form, is taking the refuse, the trash, what is ignored or brushed aside, and putting it together in new ways to create a completely different whole. At times a critique of consumerism, at times an appreciation of the variety of lifestyle around us, the collage speaks to each reader quite differently.

He also presents, in many ways, a history of the walker, of the flaneur. It is primarily in this history that some complain of the absence of women. While that is true, it is at least partly unavoidable within the context of the history. Women were not "supposed" to walk freely alone through the city streets in the 19th century. They did not have the freedom to be walkers in that sense, especially coupled with the fact they were largely inhibited from being writers. These injustices mean that a history of walkers will necessarily be lacking in women for the early part of that history.

It at first seems like the literary figures have nothing more in common than being walkers who roamed the same streets as our narrator. Yet there are connections from Poe through Baudelaire and the others.

I would recommend watching an interview with Munoz Molina that is available on YouTube about this book. I have commented on what I took away from the book but the interview offered even greater insight and connection which I won't repeat here. But it does help to make the larger picture more visible for the reader.

I would recommend this to readers who don't mind being challenged to step outside whatever their usual reading comfort zone is. It won't appeal to everyone, true of all novels but more so, I think, with this one. I would also suggest that if you generally like books that are "different" but you don't connect with this one when you start it that you set it aside for a while and come back to it. I can imagine this being one of those books that also depend on where the reader is in their life as much as whether they like the style.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Jul 15, 2021 |
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