Cuaderno de faros
Jazmina Barrera

ESSAYS | 2017 | 124 pages

The essays in this volume constitute a collection patiently fed with travel notes, personal essays, memories of readings and historical references. The author takes the reader on trips to discover some real lighthouses—such as the one in Alexandria–and others literary ones, such as in the works of Virginia Woolf, Lawrence Durell, Suetonio, Homer, Plinio the Elder, James Joyce, Herman Melville, José Gorostiza or Luis Cernuda. In the meantime, she invites us to reflect on the limits of collecting, which she questions with a lucid point of view, marked by yearning.

 As the Spanish author Antonio Muñoz Molina wrote, “Jazmina Barrera has woven a narrative that is both poetic and informative, full of bizarre and particular details as well as suggestions that reverberate throughout, much like musical motifs. The lighthouses contained in this notebook are real lighthouses that still light up at night on coasts throughout the world as well as lighthouses that faded centuries ago, and a few lighthouses that never existed, mythological lighthouses and engineers’ projects, lighthouses that are undoubtedly gifted with a symbolism that passed through the history of literature and that seem to be located in a very deep part of our psychological vocabulary, of the catalogue of images that exist just as vividly both in reality and in dreams”. 

RIGHTS: spanish (mexico) TIERRA ADENTRO I spanish (spain and mexico) PEPITAS DE CALABAZA I spanish (chile) MONTACERDOS I spanish (colombia) LAGUNA I english (usa) TWO LINES PRESS I dutch KARAAT

Her passion for lighthouses, both literary and physical, led young Mexican author Jazmina Barrera to visit six of them scattered throughout the world. Cuaderno de faros is the book, both pleasant and short enough to be easily consumed in one sitting, that chronicles her journey. The stories that make it up weave together personal anecdotes with all kinds of legends and testimonies about these luminous towers, in a style that works in harmony with that of other traveling women like Marta Rebón or Olivia Laing who have recounted their journeys throughout different cities, intertwining them with ample knowledge about art and literature.
— Mercedes Cebrián, Babelia, El País
When talent is combined with vigor, a book like Cuaderno de faros can serve as a trap door that, when opened, gives us access to interconnected universes. Cuaderno de faros…collects notes from trips to six “houses of light” scattered throughout the world, from Oregon to Asturias. But within its pages is a serene procession of figures such as Walter Scott, Beckett, Cernuda, Michelet, Bradbury, Poe, Stevenson, Suetonio, Melville, and, of course, Virginia Woolf, among others. And, to bind the group together, Barrera reflects about the act of writing and distances herself from it in order to judge it, wring it out, condemn it, and, of course, give herself entirely to it. Just over a hundred pages, in short, to discover the powerful pull of a text that forges its own path while sprouting from the page like vines.
— Eugenio Fuentes, La Brujúla
A fascinating journey through fact and fiction told in smooth and soothing prose from the author, who reveals her feelings and visions to readers so they too can contemplate every dimension of what truly lies behind the darkness and the fog, both real and imagined. In this way, lighthouses pull us into an intimate epic, with a narrative voice that is silky and vivid. Writers, engineers, characters both real and fictional, and lighthouse keepers all travel along with the author. With them, she explores the dimensions of solitude, estrangement, and the hope of lighting the way for humanity. “Cuaderno de faros” is one of those works that distinguishes itself from reality, that goes beyond what is visible and solid and searches for the intangible, that which lives in the deepest corners of our nature.
— Antonio J. Ubero, La Opinión
Cuaderno de faros is an essay in the form of a diary—and simultaneously, in the form of a confession. An essay comprised of notes that makes us conscious of our own life, that brings us to authors we may know but whose smaller points of brightness we may not have yet seen. We should make Jazmina Barrera our companion in reading. I think the importance of this book lies in its ability to make us see that our little obsessions can anchor small bursts of light in others. At least, that’s what happened to me upon reading Cuaderno de faros. Reading it made me want to write. Reading it made me want to dive into those little obsessions that keep me alive and afloat. And, best of all, reading it has made me want to share them. Isn’t that what’s wonderful about reading a book?
— Francisca Pageo, Detour
Cuaderno de faros is a pleasant, beautiful, and absolving read, but it is not precisely easy; it’s full of important information, high culture, and philosophical depth.
— Libreros recomiendan
Cuaderno de faros is a first-person narrative filled with nostalgic connections that is about understanding even what is scariest and deepest, about what it’s like to go on a journey collecting lighthouses—a journey of heroism, of facing the ocean and facing life, like Argonauts, of trying to return in the best way possible with victories and failures alike. However, as the Mexican author affirms at the end of her book, “there is no way to return” from this trip, it’s the reason why sailors always eventually leave again.
— Ariana Basciani, The Objective
A beautiful book, as I said before; Cuaderno de faros is simultaneously filled with unforeseen artists and unknown events, both of which are worthy of being treasured, perhaps even in a separate notebook.
— Juan Manuel Vial, La Tercera
The book, which parts from six key lighthouses, unfurls personal anxieties, literary reflections, and the reading of abundant literature dedicated to those mysterious towers of light.
— Leonardo Sanhueza, Las Últimas Noticias
It is not a melancholic essay, despite what one might think. It’s written with the enthusiasm of a collector or a naturalist who seeks to exhaust an object not as an act of erudition but as an act of love. Architectural details, types of lighthouses, family histories, what do I know...
— Gonzalo Maier, Las Últimas Noticias

BY JAZMINA BARRERA: Cuaderno de faros ESSAYS, 2017 Cuerpo extraño ESSAYS, 2013