Simple but worthy Spanish literature

Im looking for it. Currently the only original in Spanish that I own is Cien Anos de Soledad, cant be bothered with the accents, ill never find them.

Its beyond my capacity to make sense out of, even rudimentary sense. Its not to Spanish what Camus is to French. Im looking for that level of involvement; no childs play but not seven seven syllable words introduced on each page.

I want to learn but not to squirm.

I am familiar with the struggle.

Try Isabel Allende. She surfs that line between pop and serious literature. A fun read, simple grammar and word usage. Another thing to try is Spanish translations of novels, since the translators (sometimes) don’t have the snobby need to wow the audience with their contorted speech. Not that Garcia Marquez is contorted. He simply doesn’t give fuck, he chooses words with the dedication of a poet. The butcher is bringing me a head of Garcia Marquez.

Cortazar is a possible candidate, sort of. He is like the Hemingway of Spanish literature, he favours short words and sentences, but it can be a sonofabitch to follow. The short stories anyway, the novels are an unnecessary self-flagellation, like War and Peace, but for different reasons.

And whatever you read, be prepared for seven-syllable words every other sentence. That is just the way Spanish is built.

Unfortunately, Spanish doesn’t have a Camus. She is a daughter of Arabic and florid excess is structural. As time goes by, however, you will learn to fall in love with the logical integrity of its underlying structure. Seeing Garcia Marquez tear it apart is half the fun of reading him, if not more. Because he tears it apart, but he slices directly into your soul.

And one last thing. The accent on the ñ is not an accent, ñ is its own letter (the Italian gn). It is the only such case, and may be worth identifying even before you start worrying about what accents mean.

A hell, fuck it, here is a short guide to Spanish accents:

There is only one type, the ascending to the right type. They denote only one thing: the stress syllable. Thusly:

Words can have the stress on different syllables, and are thus classified:

  • Last (aguda)

  • Second to last (grave)

  • Third to last (esdrújula, which is an esdrújula word)

  • Fourth to last (contraesdrújula)

There is a natural flow to where the stress syllable is, and accents are there to tell you that an exception is being made and the stress being placed elsewhere. That means that whenever the stress syllable does not follow the flow described below, it will have an accent on the vowel:

  • Last syllable (aguda): all words that end in consonants, except ‘n’ and ‘s.’ Cambur, banana.

  • Second to last syllable (grave): all words that end in vowels, ‘n,’ or ‘s.’ Comes, you eat.

And so,

  • All ‘aguda’ words that end in a vowel, ‘n,’ or ‘s,’ will have an accent on the last syllable, on the vowel. Comí, I ate. París. Harén, harem.

  • All ‘grave’ words that end in a consonant except ‘n’ or ‘s’ will have an accent on the second to last syllable, on the vowel. Cortázar.

  • All esdrújula or contraesdrújula words will have accents on the relevant syllable, on the vowel. Rúcula, arugula.

So, no matter how many syllables a word has, if it doesn’t have an accent, the stress syllable will be the last or second last. Always. And you will know which of the two: if it ends in a, e, i, o, u, n or s, is is second last. If it ends in any consonant except n or s, it is last. Always.

You can master that, and then master these few and simple exceptions:

  • The suffix ‘mente,’ equivalent to the English ‘ly,’ has no effect on accent placement. Thus, ‘común’ retains its accent in ‘comúnmente,’ and ‘veloz’ will get no accent in ‘velozmente.’ Whenever -mente is used, it is read as if it were two separate words, so that velozmente would be read vehLOHS MEHNteh.

  • Single syllable words that have more than one use will have accents or not to differentiate them. There is no rule for which gets the accent. That is the only reason a single syllable word would have an accent.

  • There is this sonofabitch thing called ‘diptong’ where when certain combinations of back to back vowels occur in the last two syllables and the stress is on a specific one, an accent goes somewhere. I honestly still don’t understand it. You learn to sort of get a feel for it, and still mostly fuck it up every time. I think ‘aún,’ which means ‘still’ in the temporal sense, is an example, because it would be one syllable if the stress was on the ‘a’ but becomes two syllables since the stress is on the ‘u.’

  • “What when where” words will follow usual use in normal sentences, but will get an accent in the stress syllable when making a question. So:
    ----- Ese señor es quien sabe. (The person who knows is that guy). ¿Quién es ese señor? (Who is that guy?)
    ----- Porque te lo digo. (Because I tell you so.) ¿Por qué es así? (Why is it that way?)
    ----- etc.

Wait! Get this one: … 8408005278

It is very simply written, 0% about language art and 100% about story, and it is about a really awesome story: when Napoleon was about to invade Portugal and the Portuguese king literally just moved his capital to Brazil. The focus is on his son, who was the first Portuguese king to grow up and be crowned in Brazil.

Much appreciated sir. These are quality suggestions, the potential in them is palpable.
I know about the accents, Ive had a lot of language teaching, and when I pronounce Spanish a Spaniard thinks I am fluent. I can do a Mexican, a Cuban, a Castillian accent, but I dont know the word for car-seat or coffee-spoon.

Allende then.

By the way, ‘asiento,’ because it cannot be a ‘silla,’ a chair. Asiento essencially means seat, a place to sentarse, to sit. And yes, you usually would say ‘asiento del carro,’ like you would ‘car seat,’ the whole thing, unless the car context is already clear. As a side note, you wouldn’t say sit in the seat, sientate en el asiento, because it sounds weird and redundant. You would say ‘montate en el asiento,’ for example, ‘montate en el asiento de alante,’ mount the front seat.

And ‘cucharilla’ if you want to sound gay or ‘cucharita,’ little spoon. Even less gay is just ‘cuchara pequeña.’ I think this works too in English, ‘spoonlette’ sounds pretty gay. But cucharita will get you by most of the time, and usually you can also get away with just cuchara.