WHEN I WAS MORTAL by Javier Marías

WHEN I WAS MORTAL

KIRKUS REVIEW

A first English translation of a 1995 collection comprising 12 elliptical, often insidiously compelling stories from the prizewinning Spanish author, whose highly regarded fiction artfully blends Henry James's subtle indirection with flagrantly Gothic and Grand Guignol narrative materials. Two of Marías's novels, in fact, are here compressed and reimagined: the suave Oxford College comedy All Souls in ``No More Love,'' and the harrowing family psychodrama A Heart So White in ``The Honeymoon.'' Most of the pieces are brusque glimpses of lives derailed by quickstrike passions or moral confusions—all recorded by an aloof narrator who seems to stand comfortably outside the orbits of the individual ``worlds'' he observes so dispassionately. This limits the power of several tales to involve us—though there are a few striking exceptions: ``Fewer Scruples,'' told with weary selfmocking wit by a ``financially strapped' woman who auditions for a porno film; the bizarre detectivestory thriller ``Blood on a Spear''; and the brilliant title story, a monologue spoken by a ghost who understands the shape of his life only after having departed it, and learned how and why he died. Dependably intriguing (if uneven) work from one of Europe's most interesting contemporary writers.

Pub Date: April 27th, 2000
ISBN: 0-8112-1431-1
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: New Directions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000




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