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Friday, July 18, 2008

Voice: Exhibit One

So this voice thing. It is muy importanté, no? Manolo the Shoeblogger is, naturally, a good friend of the Wave-inatrix. We are two sling back sandals of a leather. Very, very few people in this world have met the real Manolo and I am proud to be one of them. In fact, we're having a sidecar together tomorrow afternoon. Because the Manolo and the Wave-inatrix, we like the good cocktail. Besos, Manolo, besos.

Here's the thing with the Manolo - he's brilliant. Is his creator exactly like his persona? Exactly. Or perhaps not. I'll never tell. But I know one thing, this excerpt from Manolo's upcoming memoir, Super Fantastic, is an example of voice like nobody's business. Enjoy.


Near Cordoba

It was late spring when the Manolo, laying about himself like Samson with the jawbone of the ass, had attempted to kill his brother Maximo with the giant wooden ladle.

Unfortunately, each time the Manolo would swing, Maximo would leap just beyond the reach of the heavy spoon, leaving the other party guests to take the errant blow.

The first had struck Don Alvaro in the ribs, sending the ancient and respectable tanner to the ground like the bag of broken twigs. The second had caught Maria Eulalia flat on the back of the buttocks with the great slapping sound. And the third, the mightiest of all, missed Maximo by the mere centimeters, swooshed past the Maestro Tampopo’s wife’s ear, and connected powerfully with Señor Chiquitita, sending the tiny dog, and the tip of the lovely Esmeralda’s nose (which he had just clenched between his teeth in righteous anger and would not release) flying many meters through the air.

His fury subsiding, the Manolo surveyed the carnage around him; three peoples lying on the ground injured and moaning, Esmeralda disfigured, Senor Chiquitita yipping into the thicket at the edge of the encampment, and the hated Maximo still standing, unscathed, his eyes aflame with malicious delight.

In that instant the Manolo decided to run away.

To Madrid

The old shepherd had said the Guardia Civil were hunting for the Manolo, believing that he was not merely the runaway apprentice guilty of assaulting his master’s family, but also of robbing that family of their fortune, which has disappeared from the strong box in the caravan where it had resided peacefully for many years.

Clearly it was the malign Maximo who had taken the money, but it was Manolo who was now apportioned the blame.

So, the Manolo turned to the north, away from the caravans of home, toward Madrid, the one place where he could perhaps be assured of anonymity.

Mostly he traveled alone, walking northward through the hills and across the dry plains along the sheltered and isolated paths, slowly making his progression to the city, each day taking him closer to Madrid, and deeper into the summer.

He was not yet fifteen years of age, more than the boy, but less than the man, and such isolation as he often now knew at night, alone in the wide empty spaces of the mountains and the meseta, would have been more than many older men could have borne. But the long hours he had spent at night in the caravan, working on the miraculous shoes that would have (but for Maximo’s evil!) graced the feets of the fair Esmeralda, had taught him the self-discipline and the courage to be alone with his own thoughts and fears

The kindness of those he had met along his trip had also eased his difficulty, with friendliness and good humor, and with the needed provisions. He now traveled with the small pack on his back, filled with food and clothing and with the blankets, and as dusk approached each evening he would find the sheltered place, unroll his bed, make his humble dinner, and say his prayers, and then he would try to sleep.

But the night was full of noises and often the Manolo’s own thoughts raced on, heedless of any attempt to silence them. In these wakeful nighttimes he often stared at the stars, and thought of his family, of his mother and father, and his sisters and brothers, and of the horses and the caravans of home, but mostly he thought about the shoes. It was clear to him that no matter what happened his life now belonged to the shoes, and that he must by both necessity and personal choice build his life around service to the noble ideals expressed in good shoes.

But first, he would have to avenge himself on Maximo

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