books

It by Alexa Chung

When Alex Chung released ‘It,’ I was sceptical. Curious, but sceptical. I adore her, I think her gamine figure and androgynous style make the perfect combination, and should I ever ask for anyone’s face other than my own, it would be hers. But what could she possibly write about? Fashion? But how would her book differ from any of the other coffee table books you can find sitting at the back of your local Urban Outfitters? I was doing what we are always taught not to do: judging a book by it’s cover. I also understand that I am very late to the party with this one, but I finally took the leap (years later) and purchased the book.

So here I am; eating my words, if you’ll pardon the (extremely bad) pun, because the book was amazing. A brief, but significant read. Alexa takes us through a list of her favourite things, her wardrobe staples, her thoughts, snippets of her childhood. Whilst learning about her, we also learn of her development: how she became who she is today. I love her mocking tone of the model industry that centres around size 0 women, I love her positive attitude toward heartbreak and how one day, it will be overcome. I love her listing of essential wardrobe pieces, and I too find myself sharing her penchant for leather jackets and admiration for Jane Birkin. I earlier referred to the book as a ‘coffee table book’ and I say this with the best of intentions: the images are gorgeous. From doodles from Alexa herself, to 90’s photographs of the Spice Girls.

She speaks of everything in the book with a happy heart, a positive attitude and it was a breath of fresh air to read. From lists of movie stars and music artists that inspired her, to lessons her mother taught her during childhood, Alexa’s life and thoughts make for an interesting read. My favourite page in particular was the one in which she described her grandfather, and his eccentric style. I loved how she fondly reflected on memories of his whacky shirts and jumpers gifted to him at Christmas that would always be left unworn, as he had a particular way he liked to dress. Memories such as these make her, and the book itself,  more relatable. My scepticism was misplaced, and she completely disrupts the model stereotype in that she is an ordinary, everyday girl. And it seems that this, in turn, is what makes her extraordinary. Not only did I fall in love with Alexa Chung’s book, I too, fell in love with Alexa Chung.

grace-2

books · language

El Tiempo, Todo, Locura by Mónica Carrillo

Wanting to delve into the world of Spanish poetry, preferably more modern than the usual Pablo Neruda I’m used to reading, I saw this beautiful book in a bookstore in Madrid and had to pick it up. While I’m not sure you could categorise this book as ‘poetry,’ it’s certainly thought-evoking and conveying of emotions. Carrillo describes the entries in this 431 page novel as ‘microcuentos‘ which directly translates as ‘micro accounts,’ but more naturally I would say snippets – short insights into her thoughts, her experiences, her musings.

‘Te quise como si no me fueras a romper el corazón’

 

The book is split into three equal parts, which are all separated by the title – el tiempo (time), todo (everything/all), locura (insanity). The musings seem to depict her battle between heart and head, of wanting but at the same time not wanting someone, it’s full of contradictions, juxtapositions – but that’s the beauty of it. It leaves double meanings, it’s confusing but clear at the same time. Her self conflictio, the separation of her head and her heart, while confounding, is relatable.

‘Y, al final, la espera fue el fin’

The book itself is absolutely gorgeous, a hardback complete with covering sheet and two silk bookmarks attached. My copy is looking a little bit worse for wear after taking it on the metro with me during commutes to the city – yes, I really did carry that huge book around with me. It was definitely worth it, and my Spanish has radically improved after reading it.

For those who don’t speak Spanish, I thought I would just leave a couple of my favourite snippets from the book, alongside my translations of them, so you can get a feel for the book and what I’m trying to convey in this post. Please note, I’m not a native speaker and my translations may not be 100% correct!

(213): ‘Olvidé que para quererte bien tenía que enamorarme de mí antes’ / ‘I forgot that to love you well, I had to fall in love with myself first.’
(225): ‘Ella tenía tantos defectos que le parecía perfecta, él era tan imperfecto que no resultó defectuoso, perfectamente imperfectos’ / ‘She had so many flaws that she seemed perfect, he was so imperfect that he wasn’t imperfect, perfectly imperfect.’
(293): ‘Qué culpa tendrá mi corazón si no esta bien de la cabeza‘ / ‘How guilty my heart will be if it is not right in my head.’
(315): ‘Te quise, creer, te quise, querer, y de tanto que te quise, olvidé quererme
hasta que me quise, y olvidé quererte‘ / ‘I loved you, believe, I loved you, want, and I loved you so much, I forgot to love me, until i did love me, and I forgot to love you.’
(341): ‘Contigo tuve el superpoder de enredarme en mil pensamientos y el defecto de no saber desanudarlos‘ / ‘With you I had the superpower of being tangled in a thousand thoughts and the problem was that I didn’t know how to untie them.’

‘Te eché de menos cada día de más’

Below are a couple of photographs of snippets from my copy, which I also love. You can see the shortness of them, and often the senseless locura of them, but in this way, they gain meaning:

 

‘Y llegó la temporada de tormentas, y mi tormento, tú’

grace-2