Monday, May 07, 2007

Don Juan Lives

Last week my wife and I attended a reading by a local Santa Cruz, California, author, Douglas Carlton Abrams. Abrams' book, "The Lost Diary of Don Juan" was just released last week by Atria, the same publisher as Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons."

Abrams account is not just another re-telling of the notorious seducer of women, it is a delicious romp through colonial-era Seville when gold flowed into Europe's portway to the New World.

Abrams told his audience at his book signing that the inspiration for the 'Lost Diary' came from a burning question he put forth to the ethers. He asked, 'Is it possible to enjoy a life of supreme passion with only one woman, with whom he is in a committed relationship?' (My paraphrasing). The next day an inner voice began speaking to him compelling him to write down what would later become the 'Lost Diary...' It took him about a month to finish the dictation from his inner muse, but that's not where his work ended. He later travelled to Seville to research the streets, the barrios, churches and palaces that served as the backdrop of his novel. In the meantime, the city fathers of Seville, (Sevilla in Spanish) declared 2007 the be the "Year of Don Juan," the city's most illustrious literary character.

Abrams also led a tour of journalists through Sevilla to help the city celebrate the resurgence of Don Juan.

What did I enjoy most about Abram's work? Abrams takes you on a ride of incredible rhythmic and lyrical beauty. It frames the story within the context of its place and time. It shows the decadence of Spain's golden age, permitted by King Phillip II and at the same time controlled through the Office of the Inquisition. The book tries to be extremely faithful to the history of the times and convinces me of its success. I would need to make a careful study of the history in order to measure it's authenticity and accuracy. However, the portrayal is vibrant and alive with it's portrayal of human behavior that forms a tapestry of lingering impressions of late 16th Century Spain.

The original depictions of Don Juan cast him as a cunning and callous libertine who cared nothing about the hearts he broke. This story, as in some of the more recent ones tell of another side of Don Juan, one who truly appreciates the women, with whom he has affairs and demontrates genuine heroism. He not only seduces but is seduced in his quest to master the arts of carnal pleasures. His higher instincts trigger an awakening that shows him that there is something beyond the mysteries of female desire, - the mysteries of the heart.

If you like to read historical fiction and romance, I highly recommend "The Lost Diary of Don Juan."

For more information, here is the book's official website:

and the author's blog: The Lost Blog of Don Juan

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