A few years ago on a visit to Spain, Aaron Shulman attended a viewing of the Spanish cult classic El Desencanto, a 1976 documentary on a literary and eccentric family, the Paneros. Their antics held the limelight the year after dictator Francisco Franco died. Intrigued, Shulman began researching the clan, whose father, Leopoldo, worked with Salvador Dalí on an art exhibition in the 1950s. The result: Shulman’s book, The Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain’s Most Notorious Literary Family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War. At 6 p.m. Thursday, Shulman will appear at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, where he will present the movie and a book discussion. For information, visit thedali.org. We caught up with the author, who holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, by phone from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.
What’s on your nightstand?
I have two books right now. They are The Book of Sand by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. He is one of my favorite writers. I’m rereading it. Another book I’m reading is City of Quartz by Mike Davis. I’ve been getting more and more interested in the history of L.A. since moving out here. It explores the real history of L.A. I think the book is trying to find the real image of this place.
Do you read both English and Spanish versions of books frequently?
Yes. I’m fluent in Spanish but not a native speaker. I think when I read something in translation, in English, I know something will be lost in the translation, no matter what. But, when I read it in its original language, I won’t have 100 percent understanding either. You just get as close as you can. I do sometimes read books in original Spanish, though, because I like to see the words they use and their sounds.