Archive for April, 2010

Holes In The Earth

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Guernica is one of Picasso’s most famous paintings. It depicts, in the artist’s unique style, the bombing of the Basque city of Guernica on the eve of World War II. With that painting as inspiration, Dave Boling conceived and wrote the novel, Guernica. It tells a before, during, and after tale of individuals who were unlucky enough to experience it.

Recreating a fictional depiction of historical events is always a dicey move. Historians quibble about the tiniest details. Readers often chafe at having to slog through the minutia. But sometimes, it’s the best way to turn history back into flesh and blood. Too often we remember the dates, the events, the consequences, but we fail to remember that human beings were a part of it all. Men, women, children, and in this case, animals too, subjected to abject terror and horror from the skies.

Boling’s is a story of two brothers, their families, their trials and travails and encounters with the evil that was General Francisco Franco. We become immersed in the simple, often poverty-stricken lives of the inhabitants of the Basque village of Guernica. Interspersed with their story, Boling gives us insights into Picasso’s career and life at the time. Perhaps, not surprisingly, we soon lose interest in Picasso and get caught in the struggles of peasants scratching out a living unaware of the horror that is to come. Fiction becomes more powerful that history. The fate of characters who only represent real people become more important to us than the actual artist who lived and worked and left a legacy of art that may never be equaled. Such is the power of story telling.

The actual bombing is depicted in vivid detail that words can convey more strongly than pictures. Reality happens quickly. It’s aftermath often caught in photographs or illustrations. Words wander through the fear, pain, confusion, hysteria, sorrow and grief that are part of the experience. In this way the impact is far greater.

Guernica is Dave Boling’s first novel. It’s an excellent start. The Fiction Fortune Hunter recommends it to anyone who enjoys history, storytelling, momentous events come to life. It will help you remember something that should never be forgotten.