BOOK REVIEWS

 

Niccolò Ammaniti (2001). Io non ho paura. Torino: Einaudi. 219 pages

ISBN 88-06-14210-0

English translation:

Niccolò Ammaniti (2003). I’m Not Scared. Translation by Jonathan Hunt. Melbourne: Text Publishing. 215 pages

ISBN 1 877008 46 X

 reviewed by Dr Diana Glenn (Flinders University)

“The Bogeyman at Your Table”: Niccolò Ammaniti’s Io non ho paura.

From the outset, Niccolò Ammaniti’s career as a writer of fiction has offered tantalising story-telling across a diversity of styles from horror to noir to comic-grotesque vignettes about daily life in squalid, provincial towns. Although a masterly craftsman of prose and dialogue, the indelible sensory impression transmitted by Ammaniti’s work is often a visual one. Whether it be tales of gruesome gang-rape murders, the decomposing zombie remains of Andrea Milozzi, former biology student who carves out a brilliant academic career in spite of his malodorous presence, or the betrayal of the vain hit-man Albertino against ruthless drug-lord, il Giaguaro (all episodes drawn from the short-story collection Fango, Mondadori, 1996), Ammaniti’s fictional narratives are imbued with a strongly cinematographic quality. Moreover, he has a special talent for capturing adolescent patois as evidenced in the novel Ti prendo e ti porto via (Mondadori, 1999), which features as its protagonist the bullied and troubled twelve-year-old, Pietro Moroni. Not surprisingly, Ammaniti has been involved in a number of film-based ventures, notably cinema versions of his first novel, Branchie (Ediesse, 1994), and the novella “L’ultimo capodanno dell’umanità” (in Fango). Most recently, his fourth and most successful publication, the best-selling novel, Io non ho paura, winner of the 2001 Viareggio-Repaci Prize, and now translated into English with the title, I’m Not Scared, has been made into a film. Ammaniti collaborated with screen-writer Francesca Marciano to create a prize-winning script and the film version, Io non ho paura, directed by Gabriele Salvatores, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2003.

            Ammaniti’s early attempts at fictional writing came about, not as a conscious decision, but as the result of his fear of confessing to his high-achieving child-psychiatrist father that he was having difficulty completing his university thesis in biology at La Sapienza University in Rome. At that stage, Ammaniti was busily curating aquariums and breeding fish in his room; a somewhat terrifying prospect from a structural engineering point of view, since it involved no less than twelve full-sized aquariums holding approximately two-thousand litres of water. His father’s concession of his private study in order for the young Niccolò to write up his thesis without interruption led, instead, to the creation of a story entitled Branchie (“Gills”), about an aquarist who has only three months to live. Ammaniti says that he transposed his fear of revealing the truth about his dodgy thesis to his father onto the terminally-ill protagonist. Although he never completed his university degree, Ammaniti, encouraged by his mother, became a voracious reader of fiction, where previously he had rejected the set-book lists of Italian literature recommended by his teachers. He avidly devoured the translated works of Jack London and Joseph Conrad, numerous French and Russian writers, and Stephen King who was the catalyst for his delving into contemporary fiction. Prior to writing Io non ho paura, which is now studied at the scuola media level in Italian schools, Ammaniti read Calvino’s anthology of Italian fairy-tales, Fiabe italiane.

            During an interview with this reviewer conducted in Adelaide on 27 May 2003, the novelist, who hails from Rome, articulated his frustrated longing to be a film director when he mentioned that the “small” novel, Io non ho paura, “il piccoletto”, as he referred to it, was originally conceived as a film treatment and was composed while he was in the process of trying to bring to completion a much longer volume, “il grossone”. Eventually, with publication deadlines looming for the longer work, he gave his energies to “il piccoletto”. “It was my attempt at a Baricco-length novel”, he says tongue-in-cheek. Io non ho paura is set in an unidentified region in southern Italy, in a tiny hamlet, Acqua Traverse, composed of a clutch of houses encircled by vast expanses of wheat-fields. In reality, the author is drawing inspiration from the area in north-west Puglia known as Le Murge, where the confines of Puglia, Campania and Basilicata meet. Acqua Traverse is an evocation of the tiny village of Candela. In Ammaniti’s fictional rendering, the landscape of this inland setting is harsh and isolated, the water-supply scarce and the possibilities for economic development a distant and forlorn hope. As events unfold, the narrator’s mother makes a plea to her young son for him to grow up and one day leave Acqua Traverse forever: “you must go away from here and never come back” (154).

In writing this tale, Ammaniti has deliberately chosen to avoid both a comic style and the use of the traditional narrative tense, the Past Historic, in Italian. Instead, he employs the Present Perfect Tense as the main verb form since it the tense most suited to conveying immediacy and the sense of an on-going link with the present. The author maintains that he wanted to achieve an intensely personal experiential narrative akin to a trance-like state; an hypnotic effect, bereft of retrospective moral reflections or adult judgements. The English translation by Jonathan Hunt captures the direct and moving facets of Michele’s rite of passage and his descent into the darkness.

In the torrid summer of 1978, while the grown-ups take refuge indoors behind drawn blinds, the first-person narrator, nine-year-old Michele Amitrano, is trudging about through the drought-stricken wheatfields in the stifling heat, keeping an eye on his five-year-old sister, Maria, while simultaneously fending off the bullish threats of gang-leader, il Teschio (“Skull”). In spite of its name, there is no source of fresh water in Acqua Traverse, and water is delivered by a tanker every fortnight. At night the immense combine harvesting machines move like giant insects across the scorched earth. Michele, now adult, recalls a harrowing episode from a childhood summer twenty-two years earlier. The boy Michele inhabits the child’s atemporal world of endless play and imaginative impulses, where witches, ogres, corpse-eaters and werewolves come out after dark. His mind is full of childhood fantasies; he is still an innocent lad who looks up to his father, until the moment of rude awakening when Michele’s world is torn apart by his discoveries.

As the result of a forfeit, Michele finds himself in an abandoned farmhouse and accidently stumbles across a dark secret. He finds a kidnap victim, a boy his own age named Filippo Carducci, who is confused, naked and frightened, chained by his foot, his humanity violated. Filippo cannot understand what has happened to him and so, in order to explain the disappearance of his world and his entrapment in a dark hole in the ground, he imagines that he is dead. His child’s consciousness conjures a Dantesque-like vision (one is reminded of the Heretics in their burning tombs in Inferno X or the Simoniacs in their holes in the rock in Inferno XIX), whereupon he imagines himself dead, with all his loved ones now corpses buried in open holes in the ground: “And papa’s dead. And grandmother Arianna’s dead. And my brother’s dead. They’re all dead. They’re all dead and they live in holes like this one. And I’m in one too. Everybody. The world’s a place full of holes with dead people in them” (109-110).  At the same time, Michele’s untrammelled existence is about to be shattered and his faith tested; the discovery of an item from his mother’s kitchen leads him to the realisation of the truth and his family’s complicity in the crime.

Throughout the story, Michele desperately searches for answers to help him unravel the mystery behind Filippo’s imprisonment. At first he fantasizes that the child in the hole is a demented twin sibling who was hidden by his unhappy parents so as not to frighten everyone. He imagines the scene of violence, the baby hidden in a sack and then disposed of by his father in the dark hole. His attempts to make sense of an incomprehensible mystery have the effect of laying bare Michele’s private thoughts and, in these monologues of a boy confronting his innermost fears, the author provides a rare authenticity of voice. After the first discovery of the body in the hole, Michele suffers a nightmare. However, he is determined to examine the alleged corpse and steels himself to carry out his mission by imagining he is Tiger Jack: Tiger Jack. Now there was a serious person. Tiger Jack, Tex Willer’s Indian buddy. And Tiger Jack would go up that hill even if an international conference of all the witches, bandits and ogres on the planet was taking place there, because he was a Navajo Indian, and he was fearless and invisible and silent as a puma and could climb and knew how to lie in wait for his enemies and then stab them with his knife” (44). The weight of Michele’s determination is carried by the repeated use of conjunctions. He discovers that Filippo is indeed alive and a bond gradually develops between the two boys. With great compassion, Michele tries to ease the burden of Filippo’s inhumane and monstruous treatment. During one encounter, he tenderly wipes the scabs from his eyes to allow him to see again and even takes him out of his prison so that he can breathe a little fresh air. At a moment of heightened tension, Michele remembers his father’s words: “Monsters don’t exist. It’s men you should be afraid of, not monsters” (184). The chief bully in Acqua Traverse, a twenty-year-old who goes by the incongruous name of Merry Christmas (Felice Natale), provides heightened moments of terror for the protagonist. Although pre-adolescent and still fearful of imaginary monsters, Michele ultimately faces his fears and, when the moment comes to follow a course of perilous action in order to help the defenceless victim, Michele detaches himself from his family and peers and acts alone. In spite of all the dangers and prohibitions, he remains true to the boy trapped in the hole.

The straightened economic circumstances of Michele’s family are realistically portrayed. Michele’s father is a small, wiry truck-driver who desires a better life for his family. Teresa, the wife, is trapped by the isolation and strictures of a traditional rural community: “Mama never sat at table with us. She served us standing up. With her plate resting on the fridge. She spoke little and stayed on her feet. She was always on her feet. Cooking. Washing. Ironing. If she wasn’t on her feet, she was asleep” (54).  The raw feral quality of Teresa and her fierce love for her children is memorably conveyed. These are parents who want to do the best they can but have chosen a morally aberrant means of doing so, with the collusion of the whole community. Michele, too, becomes momentarily caught up in the deception and greed. As the growing storm gathers, Michele betrays Filippo’s whereabouts for the sake of a desired toy and is in turn betrayed by his best friend, who trades his secret for a reckless driving lesson with Felice. The suspense of the denouement is beautifully sustained. As a wheeling, distressed owl searches desperately for its disturbed nest and missing young, the carabinieri, in their swooping menacing helicopters, are on the trail of the defenceless, kidnapped child, whose sorrowful vision offers a sobering indictment of the iniquities perpetrated on the innocent.

 

Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (2003). Erec y Enide. Ed. Debolsillo: Barcelona. 253 pages (in Spanish)

ISBN 84-9759-445-2 (vol. 511/1)

reviewed by Dr Fiona Taler (Flinders University)

This review is offered in memory of don Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, who died tragically in Bangkok on 17 October 2003 on his return home after a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand. His kindness, intelligence and ever present humour during his visit to Flinders University are fondly remembered.

The use of myth to illustrate the malaise of present day society is neither new nor original in contemporary literature, but it is not often attended by analysis of such scholarly splendour as it is within this text. Vázquez Montalbán’s novel Erec y Enide is named after the work of the same name by Chrétien de Troyes (ca. 1175), in which the adventures of Geraint (Erec) are narrated as he drives his unfortunate wife, Enid (Enide) through innumerable dangers in order to prove his love for her as well as his valour as a knight of Arthur’s round table. In Vázquez Montalbán’s novel, Chrétien’s text is the most elaborately worked, but it is not the only Arthurian myth represented. The novel draws upon the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, the philosophy of Percival and, insistently, the forbidden love between Tristan and Iseult, in order to illustrate the inevitable and complete isolation of the individual within what one would normally consider a well integrated society. Thus, upon reflecting on the Arthurian world through the rich pages of Erec y Enide, one is made aware of the futility of knightly endeavour and, by analogy, of the futility of endeavour in the contemporary world. The courage displayed by Erec as he saves his wife from frequent danger, which is so entrancingly narrated by Chrétien, is paralleled by the attempts of two of Vázquez Montalbán’s characters to give medical help in war-torn Guatemala, with an equally fruitless outcome. Other Arthurian myths are shown to be as applicable in conception today as they were in mediaeval Europe, notably issues such as the base betrayal of the concept of courtly love in the guilt ridden relationships between those notorious couples, Lancelot and Guinevere and Tristan and Iseult. All of the characters in Erec y Enide are searching for a way out of their isolation but are unable to see that this can only be achieved by working together on their relationships with a daily sharing of experience. It is not gratuitous that in the novel the lonely and mostly fruitless search for the Holy Grail on the part of the knights, especially Sir Percival, is mentioned with insistence.

Erec y Enide is set in contemporary Spain and tells three different tales, all of them inextricably intertwined and each one illustrating some aspect of Arthurian myth. The first and perhaps guiding story relates to the illustrious academic and Arthurian specialist, Julio Matasanz. He is at the end of his career and has gone to Galicia to receive homage in a ceremony to mark the achievements of his life’s work. The ceremony is attended by all the important medievalists in Europe and the United States as well as Spanish political, academic and social personalities, who have come to hear him deliver a lecture which will be the culmination of his work and he has chosen one entitled ‘The mythical transubstantiation of Erec and Enide’. We meet his as he awaits the arrival of his admirers and through his stream of consciousness we are made aware of the situation. The highly erudite reflections on the part of this character regarding academic matters, clearly demonstrates the erudition of the author, who in fact, was a scholar in mediaeval literature. However, in addition to the scholarly reflections, we are treated to the entire text of the proposed lecture, in which the relevance of the myths to the present day is highlighted, with the added comment that the myths can be variously interpreted and applied according to the circumstances of those involved in studying them at the time. Yet, before the reader’s admiration for this great scholar is allowed to grow too much, his thoughts are interspersed with asides and one becomes painfully aware that next to all the erudition there is a more pressing issue. Julio is impatiently expecting the arrival of Myrna War Breast, the voluptuous British mediaevalist with whom he has been sleeping for many years. They are both growing older (he must call upon the help of a dose of Viagra that very same night) but their passion is, at least from his point of view, still vibrant. We are not privy to the opinions of Myrna herself. Julio proceeds to pepper his scholarly reflections with reminiscences of his many sexual encounters, including some with his own students. His detachment and lack of engagement with these women recalls the cool behaviour in love displayed by some of Arthur’s knights as they kept their minds on their guiding lady. This lady did not always have to be the wife and Julio’s off-hand dismissal of his relationship with his wife, Madrona, is very revealing.

Julio’s reflections give context to the other two story-lines in the novel and are an ironic precognition of the ultimate fate of the characters. Madrona, Julio’s wife is discovered in chapter two, as she punishes her anorexic body at the gym. Born into a rich Catalan family belonging to the high society of Barcelona, she has had the typical upbringing of women of her class. Aspiring to intellectual refinement, she has been allowed merely to touch the surface of erudition but not to acquire the deep knowledge that would put her on the brink of having a profession and a job. This would make her less attractive on the marriage market. Madrona’s stream of consciousness fills in the gaps left by Julio on the subject of their marriage and the almost total alienation they suffer within it. His good looks and brilliant intellect were what attracted her to him even though he was of immigrant, working-class stock. His family would have belonged to the wave of poor immigrants who came to Barcelona from the south in search of work and a better life. He overcame his class disadvantages and made a life for himself through academic brilliance. Ironically, he learned Catalan and speaks it better than his Catalan wife. The upper classes in Barcelona prefer to speak Castilian among themselves rather than their own tongue. Madrona reflects on the alienation she endures from her husband and, aware of his many affairs, she is driven to exact vengeance in a vicious cult to her body, which she drives to near annihilation at the gym and to a love affair which is so loveless it is closer to a rape. The theme of infidelity, found in the stories of Lancelot and Guinevere and Tristan and Iseult, appears not only in the case of Madrona and Julio but in a subplot in which she becomes embroiled when she befriends a woman at the gym. This story affects Madrona directly as it involves one of her brothers-in-law and serves to illustrate the sordid nature of adultery. Yet in Arthurian myth as studied and researched by Julio, adultery is exalted and revered as characterising the hopeless and overwhelming love felt by Guinevere and Lancelot or Iseult and Tristan for each other. In the legends it is accepted that adulterous love is wrong, but in spite of that it is beautiful, inevitable, inspiring and, above all, tragic. In the stark reality of the present day it is nothing more than sordid.

Madrona, as King Arthur before her, aware of the infidelity turns her attention to her other duties. Arthur has his knights and Madrona her widespread and conflictive family and the preparations for the coming Christmas celebrations. Her ambition is to have them all together in her country house, aptly called ‘La Alegría de la Corte’ (The Joy of Court), for a family Christmas, even though tensions and alienation between family members will make the gathering stressful. Someone she is particularly keen to bring home is her adopted son Pedro, who is working in Guatemala as a doctor with the organisation Médécins sans Frontières.

Pedro and his girlfriend, Myriam, act out the myth of Erec and Enide. This story, which engages the academic concerns of Pedro’s father as he prepares to give his lecture, is central to the plot and draws all the strands of the story together into a cohesive whole. The area of Guatemala in which they find themselves is one of conflict and civil war, and the doctors of their organisation are the object of assassination attempts at the hands of the authorities and their allied paramilitary groups. In a trajectory obviously intended to recall that of the mythical protagonists, Pedro and Myriam avoid close calls on their lives and engage in terrifying adventures. Pedro has gone there following the lead of the adventurous Myriam, and seems engaged in proving his love and regard for her, just as Erec had done for Enide. In this violent adventure Pedro and Myriam are engaged in resolving the difficulties within their relationship just as their predecessors had done and in effect achieve similar results. One interesting aspect of this part of the novel, related in third person narrative in contrast to the first person of the other two, is that the violent tropical forest in which they find themselves has an air of unreality and a mythical quality not found in the sections set in Galicia and Barcelona. One could speculate that, being a Spaniard, Vázquez Montalbán might not be familiar with the realities of Central America and might fail to bring a sense of authenticity to the scenes set in the area. However, Vázquez Montalbán had experienced that part of the world in a recent visit to the rebellious indigenous people of Chiapas in Mexico, the heroic Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The realities of Chiapas, so close to Guatemala, would be well known to him. One could conclude then, that he intentionally gave that part of the novel an atmosphere of myth in order to bring home to the reader the connection between the speculations of the father and the adventures of the son.

On the whole, this novel is a challenging and an exciting read. Vázquez Montalbán has provided a book whose erudition is there for the reader who wants to take a deeper look at Arthurian scholarship and its relevance to the modern age. On the other hand, someone hoping to understand some of the malaise of contemporary society would be able to identify with the postmodern preoccupations of the protagonists as they struggle to reconcile themselves to the world that surrounds them and to their isolation within it. One is reminded of the search for the Holy Grail which so fruitlessly engaged so many of King Arthur’s knights, and perhaps Percival most specifically. It is advisable, when beginning to read this novel, to have at one’s elbow a copy of Chrétien de Troyes for reference and any other book on Arthurian legend. There is no doubt that you will have an overwhelming desire to refer to them before you have read many pages.

This novel is also recommended for the reader who is looking for entertainment. The story is told in an exciting narrative with some events of unbearable suspense heightened by the interruption of philosophical musings that are always interesting and accessible. True to the standard that he set throughout his long career, the author engages the reader irresistibly with his flowing writing style and an ever present humour.

The only regrettable point is that this excellent story has not yet been translated into English; a fault that one can only hope will soon be remedied.

 

Alan Bell, Ana Maria Schwartz (2002). Noticias: An Advanced Intermediate Content-Based Course. New York: McGraw-Hill. 271 pages.

ISBN 007233360X

reviewed by Dr Maria-Elena Lorenzin (Flinders University)

Noticias, es un  innovador método de español cuyo estudio integrado de la gramática ofrece interesantes opciones para un nivel que hasta hace muy poco no presentaba muchas alternativas. Su atrayente programa de actividades resulta apropiado para cursos del tercer nivel en los que se quiera incorporar contenidos motivadores para aprender la gramática de forma activa. Para cumplir con este objetivo, los autores introducen gradualmente una gran variedad de textos auténticos tomados de las más diversas fuentes del mundo hispanohablante.  Sin descartar la gran diversidad de la lengua en España y Latinoamérica, las lecturas logran una sorprendente unidad al completarlas mediante sugestivos enfoques temáticos en conjunción con segmentos de videos auténticos que, integrados al conjunto, proveen un rico y atractivo contenido. Todo esto ayuda a crear una  representación de la cultura hispana de manera viva y actual,  a la vez que sirve de 'puente funcional' para la reflexión gramatical. En este sentido, el libro opera en varios frentes, uno de reconocimiento de conceptos que se asumen como ya aprendidos o incorporados al 'haber' del estudiante y otro de más largo alcance que parte de esa base para reintroducir conceptos gramaticales que necesitan más atención en un nivel intermedio o avanzado. Como bien lo han especificado sus autores, los objetivos que los han impulsado a llevar a cabo este proyecto de Noticias son: 1) Lograr que los estudiantes se concentren en el estudio mediante contenidos interesantes y que los motive al tiempo que les permita reflexionar sobre aspectos estudiados en otras disciplinas. 2) Cambiar el enfoque de aprender la gramática y aprenderla por medio de la comunicación, es decir, viendo la gramática como un mecanismo que nos permite la comunicación en cuatro áreas: escuchar, leer, hablar y escribir. 3) Ayudar a los estudiantes para que analicen y comprendan otras perspectivas culturales en asuntos relacionados con su vida personal y profesional.

  Noticias está estructurado en ocho capítulos que vienen precedidos de un sustancioso prefacio mediante el cual los autores introducen el libro junto con los principales aportes pedagógicos que lo  sustentan: ver, escuchar y leer para hablar y escribir. Este orden se respeta rigurosamente en cada uno de los capítulos. El punto de arranque de cada capítulo procede de visionar segmentos de vídeos auténticos de no más de cinco minutos, cuyas imágenes o textos visuales son analizados del mismo modo que si fueran textos  escritos. Para facilitar la comprensión del vídeo el libro provee un escueto "vocabulario útil" que introduce el léxico específico que se va a utilizar en la sesión.   Los temas que introduce el vídeo se complementan mediante lecturas breves y un texto principal que sirve de eje para el debate. Tanto los textos visuales como los escritos vienen acompañados de actividades cuya secuencia es progresiva. Estas secuencias permiten que el estudiante logre apropiarse de las herramientas necesarias que le faciliten la comprensión acabada de los textos antes, durante y después de haber visto el vídeo o leído los textos.

El primer capítulo sirve de pórtico a los restantes que se apoyan en una serie graduada de estrategias y recursos adicionales. Las estrategias de vocabulario consisten en distinguir los términos conocidos  e identificar los cognados con especial atención a los falsos que tantos problemas originan por la cercanía semántica. Otra de las estrategias sugeridas se apoya en la identificación de palabras derivadas de otras que ya se conocen, lo cual ayuda al enriquecimiento del vocabulario independientemente de la función gramatical. Por ejemplo, de "estudiar" pueden derivarse estudiante, estudiado/ a, estudiadamente y otras similares. Las palabras compuestas dan pie a nuevas estrategias para adivinar significados. Las estrategias léxicas apuntadas no sólo sirven para identificar las palabras sino que luego se ofrecen actividades relacionadas con el tema para analizar los términos con un compañero (una compañera) para finalmente compartir los resultados con la clase. A continuación, una nota lingüística introduce los principales conceptos gramaticales relevantes para cada uno de los capítulos. La gramática está siempre enfocada dentro de un contexto que la ejemplifica y comenta. Cada una de estas secciones gramaticales es seguida de una serie de actividades, Gramática en vivo, que permite la aplicación y práctica de las estructuras lingüísticas introducidas  previamente.

A manera de cuña entre capítulos se ofrece una sesión a la que se denomina  Vínculos. Introducida cada dos capítulos por un breve segmento de vídeotexto, sirve de síntesis a los precedentes a la vez que recapitula los principales temas y orienta las actividades de los estudiantes hacia otras fuentes entre las que se cuenta el Internet. En síntesis, el libro, que consta de ocho capítulos y de cuatro cuñas de repaso o Vínculos, da prioridad a la comunicación en pares o grupos,  incentiva  la capacidad de generar conexiones con otras disciplinas a la par que desarrolla las correspondientes habilidades de lengua y contenidos. Por último, no desatiende las culturas del mundo hispánico, las cuales son abordadas en relación con la propia de los estudiantes.

 Noticias, como su nombre lo indica, pretende ser "noticia" actualizada y para ello ofrece material suplementario en  línea tanto para los instructores como para los estudiantes. Esta sección enlaza diariamente los principales titulares de los periódicos en español que guardan relación con los tópicos del curso. De este modo los temas introducidos en los capítulos no pierden actualidad y están permanentemente actualizados.

Las actividades optativas del sitio Web de Noticias desafían las viejas estructuras de enseñanza al instaurar espacios de autoaprendizaje cuya marcha es controlada por los propios estudiantes. La habilidad de operar con estos registros posibilita su  ingreso en el mundo de la  comunicación a la par de proveerles competencia para presentar los resultados en clase. El material que cubre el libro desborda ampliamente las limitaciones formales de la clase de lengua a tal punto que muchos de los contenidos pueden ser aprovechados y hasta continuados en las clases de conversación.

De igual manera, Noticias aporta excelentes oportunidades para la expresión escrita como corolario del progreso de comprensión visual y lectora. Los temas que surgen tienen relación directa con los ejes temáticos de los capítulos y explotan algunas de  las destrezas estimuladas a lo largo del curso: describir, comparar, hacer inferencias y explicar, identificar, parafrasear y hacer resúmenes.

Noticias lleva a la práctica la filosofía de sus autores, quienes consideran que lo más urgente e importante es proveer contenidos atractivos para que los estudiantes procedan desde allí al estudio funcional de la gramática. Sin embargo, es de lamentar que no se hayan incorporado más textos literarios con lo que el viaje habría sido completo.

El libro se complementa con un  Manual de trabajo y  un Manual del instructor que no he tenido oportunidad de evaluar.