Thursday, November 06, 2008

el mundo - juan josé millás

Some weeks ago I´d read the novel "El mundo" by Juan José Millás. Without a doubt it is one of the best novels I´ve read in recent years, not only for its simple (uncomplicated) prose, but more so for its absolute honesty. And I mean here the honesty of the narrator who is Millás telling us about his childhood, and about later encounters with one or two of those same childhood friends. For instance, he writes about his childhood notions of a "barrio de los difuntos" - a neighbourhood of the dead. This ghostly lustre of the neighbourhood has more to do with its opulence (so very unlike his own neighbourhood); a neighbourhood that he strays into one day as he makes an improvised tram journey away from home if only to disperse the (now shredded) evidence of the banknote he´d pilfered from his father´s jacket pocket. You´ll have to read the novel to find out why he was taking the money to start with... It is entirely endearing the way he narrates the logic and thinking of his childhood self; those pivotal friendships and moments as one grows up (He tells of being besotted with a girl, only for her to turn to him at some point saying "you´re not interesting to me". And he then toys with the sentence, inserting pauses and punctuation so as to give it a varied meaning, wondering at the same time which of his interpretations were the most accurate.) The moments he narrates are often hilarious and at times so very poignant.

In an interview (see video) he mentions that the novel is being translated into a number of languages, but it seems, unfortunately, English isn´t one of them. Not yet anyway. What a great pity, since it seems so universal, the essence of the story that he tells.

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