Review: To Live
history of anarchism |
Wednesday November 23, 2005 18:59 by Kevin Doyle - WSM - Red and Black Revolution
Novel on Spansih revolution
The 'civil war' within the Civil War that occurred in Spain between 1936-39 is a difficult business to understand. Mick Parkin has succeeded admirably in his short novel To Live.
By Mick Parkin, self published,
£5 incl. P&P from email@example.com
For many people the 'civil war' within the Civil War that occurred
in Spain between 1936-39 is a difficult business to understand. Not
only were many different organisations involved, but it was set
against the background of an even larger conflict that in itself was
rife with brutality and betrayal. Although it appears at times to be
an impossible quagmire to make sense of, Mick Parkin has succeeded
admirably in his short novel To Live.
Mick Parkin will be known to some that read these pages as the
one-time publisher of Sinews, the English-language publication which
played a valuable role in publishing articles on the split in the CNT
in the 80s. Parkin is a fluent Spanish speaker and has lived for many
years in Spain. He now resides in Scotland where he is a member of
the Scottish Socialist Party.
To Live begins with the theft of twelve tanks from the
production line at a metal works plant operated by POUM aligned
workers in April 1937. The CNT, the anarchist aligned general union
of workers, appoints two of its members, Ramon Alvares and Vicente
Rossell, to investigate what has happened. Ramon is recently returned
from Zaragossa Front while Vicente is a worker in the Co-operitiva
Vigor, a worker-run factory. As the story follows the movements and
discoveries of these two comrades we get a wider picture of balance
of views and ideas at the crucial time in the course of the Spanish
To Live does not waste a lot of time with detail - an
achievement in itself given the large amount of information that is
still conveyed to the reader through dialogue and descriptions about
situations and places. It moves swiftly between the main characters'
investigative work and their personal lives, giving the book the
quality of a good, fast-moving read. One of Parkin's strengths is
dialogue, and this is cleverly used to convey a sense of the debate
that is raging about the future course of the revolution.
The story begins in late April 1937 and closes just as the main
Telephone Exchange in Barcelona is attacked by the Guardia Civil at
the behest of Stalinist PSUC - an event that was to mark the end of
revolution in Spain. In the interval we catch a glimpse of what life
might possibly have been like for the many participants who struggle
admirably during those days to change the course of history. What
emerges is a world under siege, where the more far-sighted are able
to see the dangers that are approaching but are unable to do what is
needed to affect the necessary change. The story of the Spanish Civil
War? Hardly so, but in some respects we do see another dimension to
the struggle here, and that is useful.
I wasn't too happy with the end - nothing to do with the politics
as such - but this doesn't distract from what is a good book about a
time we rarely see represented in fiction. Contact the author by
email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get a copy of this book.
reviewed by Kevin Doyle
From Red and Black Revolution No 9
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