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IBERIA by James A. Michener


Spanish Travels And Reflections

by James A. Michener

Pub Date: April 12th, 1968
ISBN: 0394429826
Publisher: Random House

Michener contributes a gigantic guidebook and, via some 500 pages in relatively small print, has seen and reviewed Spain. The book is a staggering paiella of information culled from history, conversations, literature and Michener's stays there for over thirty years. There is no plan, no itinerary per se, just wanderings, retracings and musings. He moves through a cathedral, defines a few Spanish words, discusses Toledo ware. He recommends books and instructs the reader on how to make a gaspacho. He talks about the Inquisition, the Don Juan literature, the Civil War (he is glad now that he didn't join up since he realizes that the Communists took over the Republican side very early), the effect Swedish girls have had on sexual mores, Carlos V, flan, bullfighting (the one long and comprehensive section—Michener has observed about 251 bullfights), the change of seasons in a great swamp, Compostela. And many cities, many towns. There is even a long conversation with friends of Hemingway about Papa. There are times, though, when Michener's reportage is just too intrusive and cloying. And once again he is bland, and his opinions are ordinary. But he does give good information about Spain and hopefully there will be an index and perhaps the book could be shrunk to the size of a tourist's pocket. In any case, it will travel—and the Book-of-the-Month Club selection is just another assurance of its predictable popularity.