Sunday, January 05, 2014


"Then the item vanished from the press completely, as tends to happen with all news nowadays: people don't want to know why something happened, only what happened, and to know that the world is full of reckless acts, or dangers, threats and bad luck that only brush past us, but touch and kill our careless fellow human beings, or perhaps they were simply not among the chosen. We live quite happily with a thousand unresolved mysteries that occupy our minds for ten minutes in the morning and are then forgotten without leaving so much as a tremor of grief, not a trace. We don't want to go too deeply into anything or linger too long over any event or story, we need to have our attention shifted from one thing to another, to be given a constantly renewed supply of other people's misfortunes, as if, after each one, we thought: 'How dreadful. But what's next? What other horrors have we avoided? We need to feel that we, by contrast, are survivors, immortals, so feed us some new atrocities, we've won out yesterday's already.'"

—pages 34-35, The Infatuations by Javier Marías.


I imagine the long, sinuous, languorous, ever-shifting oxbow sentences of Marías, as presented by his English translator Maria Jull Costa, to be as rich and challenging in their original Spanish. They remind me of Melville. They take time to arrive somewhere, but the places they go are oh so spectacular and rewarding.


Marías asks us to play along with his characters. His works explore the realms of observation, perception, memory, and recall. We (along with the characters) become witnesses to what we sense; and each of us will notice different things.

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