05 October 2013

Aura by Carlos Fuentes

As part of a project for a client, I got the opportunity to read Aura by Carlos Fuentes. It's a novella written in second-person point of view (present tense).

I've had this review in my drafts for a few weeks now. Because this book is different from a lot of what I've read, and because I read it for work, I've been struggling to put my thoughts about it into words. But I need to, so here we go.

The point of view and tense was difficult for me, at first. But once I got used to it (a few pages in), I think it's an effective use of the point of view, especially for this particular story.

Aura is the story of a man who accepts the job of finishing the memoirs of a deceased man, at the request of his elderly widow, near death herself. He is at the house for three days and, during that time, uncovers a strange situation, particularly in the relationship between Consuelo (the widow) and Aura, a young woman at the house.

I'm reluctant to say more. I'd rather encourage you to read it for yourself.

Aura is one of those books that rewards rereading. While I was working with it for my work project, I read it about three times cover to cover (being a novella, that was possible in this case). Each time I read it, I felt like there was a layer to the story that had been staring me in the face, but I'd missed until that moment.

It's a dark story, and one that draws the reader in to the dreamlike (nightmarish?) world of Consuelo's house. I think that's why the point of view and present tense of the story work. It puts the reader in the middle of the action, rather than being an observer, and adds to the blur between reality and imagination that occurs.

I'll be honest, I had an idea of what was really going on in the story with some of the first clues, but I attribute that to my usual wibbly-wobbly entertainment tastes. My mind goes to the most convoluted solution, and I work backwards from there. However, that's not to say I didn't enjoy the story. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

I think, overall, the imagery was effective, the story was well-crafted, and it was just the right amount of creepy for me.

I think I'll likely read Aura again sometime in the future, when I'm not reading it for work. Now that I've (sort of) studied it, I'd like to read it again for pleasure and see if it comes across any differently to me.

I definitely encourage you to read it for yourself. It's a quick read, and definitely worth it, in my opinion.

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