Thursday, 22 September 2011

Coming Soon Book Review: Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Waiting for Robert Capa (P.S.)From - "Love, war and photography marked their lives. They were young, anti-Fascist, good-looking, and nonconformist. They had everything in life, and they put everything at risk. They created their own legend and remained faithful to it until the very end....

When Gerta Pohorylle meets Endre Friedmann in 1935, they are in Paris; she is German, he is Hungarian, but both are communists, Jews, exiles—and photographers. To sell their work more easily, they change their names, becoming Gerda Taro (in homage to the Japanese Taro Okamoto) and Robert Capa (a portmanteau of Robert Taylor and Frank Capra). Under their new identities, they travel to Spain, entering Europe’s most harrowing war zone to document the country’s quickly intensifying civil war. Love, danger, and a fierce dedication to journalism and art mark their lives as the couple’s story unfolds, and until tragedy overcomes them two years later, theirs is a romance for the ages.

Based on the true story of these legendary figures and already set to be the next film by award-winning director Michael Mann (Public Enemies, The Insider, Manhunter, Miami Vice, Collateral), Waiting for Robert Capa is a captivating love story between artists, and a moving tribute to all journalists and photographers who risk their lives to document the world’s daily transformations."

This book looks like it will be one of those released to great critical acclaim, and translated for the big screen which I imagine will make a good film. However I found myself struggling to finish this book. I'm interested in photography but have to admit I hadn't heard of these photographers before so I wasn't sure how much of the book was a biography and how much was fictionalised. I read it expecting something that would be almost a historical fiction novel, but there were so many names and facts thrown in that it interrupted the flow of the narrative. I was also hoping to learn a bit more about the Spanish Civil war, which doesn't seem to get a lot of attention in the media compared to other conflicts. However while there was some information included it almost seemed to presuppose a degree of prior knowledge which I don't have, so it didn't really enlighten me and the scenes detailing actual conflict were limited and didn't have much emotional impact.

The story jumps around both in time and location, and the narrative in places is very choppy with incomplete sentences. The style worked in some places but overall this had a combined effect of making it a bit difficult to follow at times. Some of the references back to Gerta's life before she moved to Paris seemed to set up mysteries to be resolved, such as what had happened to her previous love Georg who went to Italy, with a suggestion something had gone on that would be revealed, but it never was. Probably a good thing there were no more flashbacks to their time together as I hated the sex scenes. I seriously dislike the use of the word "member", does anyone use it in real life in an anatomical context outside of literature?

I put this book down unsure of whether it was a biography, historical fiction or a romance novel, and my overall feeling was one of relief that I'd finished it. It was okay but I'm afraid I can't be more enthusiastic. It's a shame something I saw as really promising was a bit of a damp squib.

Format: E-book, Advance Review Copy, anticipated release date 27th September 2011
My Rating: 2*

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