Plants Don't Drink Coffee Paperback – 8 May 2009
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Unai Elorriaga does away with the boundaries and coordinates of con- ventional literature and takes them elsewhere: to the surprising literary territory of a writer with no hang-ups. --Harkaitz Cano
Short sentences, measured words, dialogues pregnant with silences . . . all can be found in this lively narrative. It is the characters, the stories, and above all, the transparency and gracefulness of the child's outlook that add freshness and strength to Elorriaga's latest. --Berria
In these stories there is a psychological process, a learning curve, a pain- ful jump toward crucial knowledge. In Plants Don't Drink Coffee that jump takes place toward the end, which helps the story glide along joyously, aided by the novel's two main strengths: the innocent but brilliant, and almost shrewd language of the child narrator and the abundance of secondary stories. "--El Pais "
Plants Don't Drink Coffee must be understood from a double perspective: as an approach to reality from a non-realist position and also as the practice of pure creativity. "--El Mundo "
This is the last book that made us cry. It made us cry with a wonderful hurt that made us remember what life was like. If you haven't read Plants Don't Drink Coffee by Unai Elorriaga you should run out and purchase it, and you should drag it across your eyes. Don't put it at the bottom of a stack. Don't make it the caboose of some glorified book-domino train. It's set in the Basque country of Spain. It contains rugby, and dragon flies, and carpentry competitions, and old love letters looked over. We can't tell you much else, because it would ruin the tale. Each narrative, in the four narrative split story, is packed with rose-petal scented suspense. "--Dark Sky Magazine"
"Short sentences, measured words, dialogues pregnant with silences, letters...all can be found in this lively narrative. It is the characters, the stories, and above all, the transparency and gracefulness of the child's outlook that add freshness and strength to Elorriaga's latest book."
"In these stories there is a psychological process, a learning curve, a painful jump toward crucial knowledge. In Vredaman that jump takes place toward the end, which helps the story glide along joyously, aided by the novel's two main strengths: the innocent but brilliant, and almost shrewd language of the child narrator and the abundance of secondary stories."
"Vredaman must be understood from a double perspective: as an approach to reality from a non-realist position and also as the practice of pure creativity...Thus while Elorriaga seeks to explain reality outside conventional lines, he doesn't avoid it. The events that take place in the novel are more than uncontrolled inventions: they aim to give the world meaning, and are sometimes imbued with naivety...In other words, Elorriaga does whatever he wants, without concern for convention."
"I read Unai Elorriaga's latest novel almost without stopping to breathe. Breathlessly, yes, but not quickly, because Elorriaga's books are not the kind you read in two or three hours and put back on the shelf. It is a very good novel. Incredibly good."
--"Gorka Bereziartua, Eremulak.com"
"Unai Elorriaga does away with the boundaries and coordinates of conventional literature and takes them elsewhere: to the surprising literary territory of a writer with no hang-ups."
About the Author
Unai Elorriaga (1973 - ) won the prestigious Spanish Premio Nacional de Narrativa in 2002 for his first novel, SP rako tranbia (A tram to SP). He is also the author of the novel Van't Hoffen ilea (Van't Hoff's Hair) and numerous anthologized short stories. He currently works as a translator and professor at the Instituto Labairu de Bilbao. Gabantxo is a literary translator, writer and reviewer. Her work appears in many journals and newspapers, including the Times Literary Supplement and The Independent, as well as in An Anthology of Basque Short Stories (University of Nevada) and Spain: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press). Her translation of Lertxundi's Perfect Happiness is forthcoming from University of Nevada Press.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Plants Don't Drink Coffee was originally published as Vredaman in 2005. It was translated into English last year, and published by Archipelago Books earlier this month.
The narrator, Tomas, is a young boy who is living with his Aunt Martina while his father recuperates from illness. He adores his older cousin Iñes, who is studying entomology at university, and he desires to catch the rare and elusive blue dragonfly, as the person who catches it will be "the most intelligent person in the world".
Tomas observes his slightly off center relatives that live in Aunt Martina's home. His uncle Simon is obsessed with rugby, and engages in a plot with his friend Gur to create a rugby pitch on a private golf course. Mateo, Tomas' cousin and a skillful pilferer of library books, learns about his grandfather Julian, who competed to be the best carpenter in Europe, but no one will tell him if Julian won the event. And Piedad, an elderly friend of Aunt Martina, tells endless stories about her old lover Samuel Mud, a famed architect, whom she never marries due to a family secret.
This is a lighthearted and beautiful story of seemingly ordinary people who engage in mildly odd and surreal quests, and is definitely recommended.
It's a sweet little story that'll make you cry.
Part Beckett part Lewis Carroll, it's like a children's story for your adult soul. Comparable to The Little Prince in that regard.
Everyone should read it. If you don't read it, you can't borrow my car.