The infatuations

Javier Marías

Book - 2013

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FICTION/Marias Javier
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Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2013.
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Spanish
Physical Description
337 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780307960726
0307960722
Main Author
Javier Marías (-)
Other Authors
Margaret Jull Costa (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Marías has earned major literary prizes in his native Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Chile, and Ireland. A novelist's novelist, a consummate stylist, his works have been translated into 42 languages. The plot of The Infatuations has elements of a thriller. The narrator, María Dolz, eavesdrops on a conversation that undoes all she thinks she knows about Javier, her lover, and his dear friend, the victim of an apparently brutal and senseless murder. What she believed was a tragedy may be the result of a conspiracy. When Javier speaks of Balzac, María thinks of her father's favorite, Dumas père, and quotes from Macbeth appear; yet these postmodern tropes are never more alive than in Marías' respectful hands. The cadences of his exquisite sentences are preserved in translator Costa's English, the clauses balanced like a loaded scale; detail accumulates yet also erodes and turns elusive. The more precise the descriptions of passion and reflection, the more fleeting these states appear: the object of our attention and its dark shadow vie for supremacy. It is magical, stupendous, and not done for effect. Marías dramatizes the fluidity of attention as María persuades herself, and us, of the truth and of its opposite. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Titles by Marías have sold six million copies in 50 countries worldwide, and his prizes range from the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the Prix Femina Étranger. His devoted following in the United States is about to get bigger with his shift to a powerhouse publisher. Already a best seller in Europe, this work is a murder mystery wrapped in a novel of ideas, asking questions about love, mortality, and truth vs. appearance. María Dolz can't help admiring the couple she spots daily at the Madrid café where she breakfasts; they seem so much happier than she is. Then the husband is murdered, and when María pays the widow a sympathy call, she meets (and falls for) a man with disturbing insights into the crime. [Page 55]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The blockbuster "Your Face Tomorrow" trilogy is a tough act to follow, and this latest novel by Spanish novelist Marías, whose prizes range from the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the Prix Femina Étranger, is very much in a minor key. Similar to Marías's previous works, this novel is devoid of plot, which is propelled by a half dozen or so conversations and meetings. The focus of the action is the murder of distinguished film distributor Miguel Desvern, whom the female protagonist María Dolz has been observing with his wife, Luisa Alday, with whom she now strikes up a friendship. Shortly thereafter, Javier Díaz Varela (Desvern's best friend) becomes romantically involved with both María and Luisa. Marías turns a narrative about an apparently random homicide into a metaphysical inquiry fraught with ambiguity as accounts of the incident vary in their degree of accuracy and detail, a plot twist presents a questionable motive, and even the victim's name isn't certain. The story is focused more on death than falling in love, contrary to the title. VERDICT From this novel, it is easy to see why Marías is among Spain's most celebrated writers living today, but his fluid yet digressive style may not be to everyone's liking. When it comes to a novel exquisitely questioning the nature of fact and truth, however, this is a highly rewarding literary experience. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/13.]—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH [Page 87]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Marías (While the Women Are Sleeping) shows that death is hardest on those left living. Each morning María Dolz has breakfast at a cafe watching perfect couple Miguel and Luisa. One morning Miguel is stabbed to death on his birthday by a knife-wielding panhandler, a seemingly random act of madness. This rupture in María's idyllic voyeurism causes her to intersect her life with Luisa's, enmeshing herself in the murder's aftermath. Yet, as the story unfolds it becomes clear that nothing is certain but death. With philosophical rigor, Marías uses the page-turning twists of crime fiction to interrogate the weighty concepts of grief, culpability, and mortality. Indeed, scattered throughout are metafictional reflections on the limits and power of literature's hypotheticals, while María's job at a publishing company provides comic relief in its caricatures of the vanities of writers. The novel's power lies in its melding of readable momentum and existential depth. Through Costa's lucid translation, the prose exhibits Marías's trademark clarity and digressive uncertainty; a novel that further secures Marías's position as one of contemporary fiction's most relevant voices. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Breakfasting daily at a Madrid cafâe where she observes fellow patrons, Marâia Dolz offers condolences to a widow whose husband has been shockingly murdered, an act that leads to a new relationship and disturbing insights into the crime.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Breakfasting daily at a Madrid café where she fantasizes about her fellow patrons' idyllic marriage, María Dolz offers condolences to a widow whose husband has been shockingly murdered, an act that leads to a new relationship and disturbing insights into the crime.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Marías comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand—or do we?—through one woman’s ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations. At the Madrid café where she stops for breakfast each day before work, María Dolz finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Though she can hardly explain it, observing what she imagines to be their “unblemished” life lifts her out of the doldrums of her own existence. But what begins as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement when the man is fatally stabbed in the street. María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, and at the couple’s home she meets—and falls in love with—another man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly reimagined as metaphysical enquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, guilt and obsession, chance and coincidence, how we are haunted by our losses, and above all, the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.