Ordesa, by Manuel Vilas

An “autobiographical novel” about a middle-aged Spanish man contemplating the state of his own life, and the lives of his deceased parents and other elders. Vilas’s style — reading in translation — is straightforward and concise, which somehow feels a bit odd in an elegy. We get ruminations that… aren’t very ruminative. Late in the book comes a brief aside that seems to acknowledge this bluntness:

If that old woman were speaking English, we’d get to enjoy a scene of American realism, full of steely poetry, but in Spain, and in Spanish, and in a Zaragozan accent no less, we end up without steely poetry, without transcendence, without epic, without anything at all. We are left merely with the exoticism of the inferior bloodlines.