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Book Review: The News From Spain

The News from Spain.jpg

While you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, the illustration on the cover of the The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham is somewhat telling of what's inside. A single red ribbon on a black background ties each of the stories together through theme and repeated phrases. The ribbon flows with no bows or knots, bleeding off the page. Similar in design, these stories are not wrapped in tidy packages. Sometimes they begin with no introduction and end abruptly, leaving the reader to speculate about what will happen next.

Each of the seven stories is about a different kind of love: romantic, familial, unrequited. The stories are individually titled, but each with the same title: "The News from Spain," because those four words appear in each of them.

Most of the stories-- at least the first five-- are very well done. When Wickersham tries to weave a story within a story, however, she falls short. I was slapping my head in frustration, actually wondering if there was some mishap at the printer. "Where did that come from?" I asked aloud.

Wickersham basically sums up the entire book in a paragraph found in the last few pages. She writes: "You meet someone, you fall in love, you marry. You meet someone, you fall in love, it turns into a disaster. You meet someone, you fall in love, but one of you is married, or both are: you have or don't have an affair. You meet someone, you fall in love, but you are never quite sure if your feelings are returned. You meet someone, you fall in love but you are able to keep your feelings mostly hidden; occasionally they cough, or break a dinner plate, or burn down the kitchen, but mostly they stay out of sight when other people are around."

The love depicted in The News from Spain is questioning, honest and raw. It left this reader wondering how much was truly fiction.

Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.