I found this book challenging in many ways. Both the style, with its shifts in time and narrative viewpoint, and the squalor and tragedy young David Bartra experiences make it tough going. I was never sure which of David's stories were dream, fantasy or reality. But one of the undoubted pleasures of the story is the vivid cinematic description of childhood in Barcelona.
Heading down Via Layetana, on the right-hand pavement under the scorching sun, and there on the corner, in the midst of the weary confusion of exhausted people, stands this little girl. All the day's colours and reflections seem focused in this one figure as she comes to a halt for a moment and consults her little plastic watch with its yellow numbers and painted metallic hands. Its dial is sky-blue, and the strap round her wrist is clear purple with yellow edges. Why are you staring at it, brother, when you know full well the hands are painted on and will always show the same time, a quarter to one? Are you looking at this cheap imitation watch to pretend you are busy, someone in a hurry to get to an important meeting?