26 October 16 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is by Kristel Thornell on Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías, and out at the beginning of next month from Knopf.

Here’s the beginning of Kristel’s review:

Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his customary ethical tangles and astute mulling over human behavior. At its most fluid, the reader drifts through the familiar density and detours in something like an intrigued torpor.

The focal point is the uneasy marriage of Eduardo Muriel and Beatriz Noguera. Juan de Vere, the narrator, is looking back on the period when, in his first job as an assistant to Eduardo, a well-known film director, he lived in the former maid’s quarters of the couple’s apartment. He was drawn to them, they relied on him, and this configuration made him a privileged voyeur. Provoked by rambling conversations with Eduardo and the titillating episodes of spying and eavesdropping Marías luxuriates in, de Vere wrestled to understand their union that was marred by unkindness and physical rejection on the part of Eduardo. This puzzling lack of intimacy appeared to stem from a perceived betrayal. Furthermore, Eduardo had entrusted de Vere with the mission of getting close to the shady, lecherous Van Vechten, family doctor and friend, to evaluate whether he could have behaved in an “indecent manner” toward women. To say more of the plot might spoil its teasingly deferred revelations, and in Marías seductive teasing is much of the point.


For the rest of the review, go here.


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