No more love (Javier Marias, 2016)

“The older I get, the less certainty I have,” said Spanish writer Javier Marías in a recent interview. Almost exactly twenty years ago, after the publication of the translation of his novel My Heart So White, he had been discovered by more English-speaking countries. More than six million copies of his novels, stories and essays translated into 34 languages ​​have been sold across the world. Javier Marías, who celebrated his 65th birthday on 20 September, is anything but an easily consumable mainstream author. His often interlaced and cross-referenced novels are attributed in Spain to the Pensamiento literario – a kind of philosophical narration.

Now, for the first time, there is a representative selection of 30 stories from almost 50 years in a large anthology. The earliest story ( life and death of Marcelino Iturriaga ) dates from 1968 and is (despite the author’s youth) very sophisticated. The protagonist Marcelino Iturriaga reports almost emotionlessly about his own death and his unexciting life of only 35 years. Love, passion, disappointment, betrayal and death (often violent) are the fundamental building blocks in these texts.

Marías cultivates the surreal and artistic border crossings in his stories. Banal everyday events are mixed with fantastic inserts.Sometimes a little Edgar Allan Poe shimmers through between the lines. The band contains no less than three spooky ghost stories, as does the title story No Love , in which a young woman appears as a reader. When reading aloud, she suddenly encounters a ghost in the form of a peasant boy: “The young man immediately raised his index finger to his lips and indicated to her with reassuring hand gestures that she should continue and not betray his presence.”

No less scary is in some stories in which Marías plays with bonds from the world of crime thrillers. Often he sends his characters to the other world in a bizarre way – so in Lanzenblut , one of the most extensive lyrics of the volume. Right at the beginning we encounter two corpses pierced by lances in a bestial way. Javier Marías’ imagination knows no bounds. The author also goes into the emotional shoals of his characters. The result is situations that are as bizarre as they are oppressive – for example, when Elvis Presley’s Spanish teacher reaches for a pickaxe in self-defense or when a psychopathic man permanently films his young and highly attractive wife, because he wants to document part of their last day of life.

“In one of my novels I wrote: The moment comes when it is difficult to separate what you have read from what you have experienced.Both are experiences “, according to Marías’ artistic credo. And the readers are now enriched by the important experience that the important, often very extravagant and lengthy novelist Javier Marías masterfully masters the fast-paced literary short prose and knows how to tell exciting stories.

Javier Marías : No more love. Stories. Translated from Spanish

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