Translated from Spanish by Adriana V. Lopez
The basics: Waiting for Robert Capa is the story of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, two photojournalists covering the Spanish Civil War.
My thoughts: This novel has all of the elements you think I would love: characters based on real people, journalists, and a fascinating historical setting. I had such trouble with the writing, however, I could not relax and enjoy the story.
With a translated work, it's hard to criticize the writing. Truthfully, I don't know if it's a translation issue or a writing issue, but this novel suffered from two of my biggest pet peeves in writing. The singular/plural noun disagreement was atrocious. I know English is peculiar, but sentences such as "Each in their own place" and "When you don't have a world to go home to, one has to trust their luck" drive me bonkers. I'm a huge proponent of both gender neutral language and proper grammar; it's possible to do both. Second, and this gripe is even more personal, Fortes frequently used "this" without following with another noun. "This what?" I often scrawl across my student's papers. I like beautiful, strong language with clear antecedents. There were too many sentences that began "This is." It's weak writing, and, again, it's impossible to know if it's the work of Fortes or Lopez.
Perhaps because my students are prone to these very mistakes I found myself especially irked. Many readers will look past the awkward grammar and embrace this story of war and love, but usage problems kept me from engaging with this novel, which is a shame. I wish I could have gotten past the usage issues, but as I read this brief novel I struggled to not pick up my red pen and feel like I was grading papers.
The verdict: I may not be crazy about the book, but I do think it will make a great film because there is a crux of a beautiful, visual story in this novel. Michael Mann is adapting it for the screen, and I'm eager to see it.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 208 pages
Publication date: September 27, 2011 (paperback original)
Source: from the publisher via TLC Book Tours
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