Javier Marías – A Heart So White

One of Spain’s best writer today by drumroll please none other than Roberto bolaño my favorite authors Javier Matias is a very famous Spanish author and translator who published his first novel at 19. Javier’s father was a Spanish author and philosopher Julio Matias who was a student of Ortega y Gasset at one point his father was imprisoned for a little bit and then banned for teaching after opposing Franco Matias, who wrote a story called The life and death of Marcelino.

This was included in a collection of his stories called while the women are sleeping and he wrote on that particular story when he was 14. This is the first novel by him that I’ve read and I think it’s superb. I mean it’s marvelous it’s something to marvel at that just in its elegance and sophistication and its style it is really he’s just got Pedro almodóvar would have done a magnificent adaptation.I mean straight arrangements you know that whole tone of the skin I live in it would be.

A heart so white

Published in 1992 is about a man his wife his father and his father’s previous wives, it’s an elegant sophisticated Spanish philosophical of mystery.

A man is haunted by the actions of his father so not his past necessarily but his father’s past Javier Melia’s is a Spanish author and translate who was born in Madrid but also spent a little bit of time over here in this states. Vakious is an enviable astute writer the title a heart so white is referencing a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth which I’m afraid I haven’t yet read I know my hands are of your colour but I shamed to wear a heart so white which was said by Lady Macbeth to make that after he has committed murder, his hands are red with blood the main character of the novel is a translator elect Matthias, he knows more than anyone that you can’t unhear something after it’s said you can’t forget something after it’s said and sometimes it may be better if nothing was said so how much should be really told shouldn’t we tell the truth if it’s just going to hurt somebody how much does it actually help to know the truth and since memory is fallible what is the truth really?

The book opens with a family gathering, I think it’s like lunch or something and this woman gets up from the table walks into the bathroom takes out a gun and shoots herself in the heart committing suicide the opening of the book is one of the most masterfully crafted introductions into a sombre expansive gorgeous meditation on life love marriage secrets impermanence death and the inescapable consequences of past actions, the woman who killed herself is the second wife of the narrator’s father Ron’s. A man with a shadowy past kind of a dandy works in the art world worked at one time for the Prado in Madrid, but yeah he has a shadowing past is kind of sketchy as we discover that she is actually the second of his wives to have died, his son the narrator the protagonists grew up thinking that she was the only one, the first it’s that classic question is it better to tell the truth or will that just do more harm so for better or worse semi intentionally yet also sort of unintentionally.

He embarks on a journey to learn more to discover what really happened along with his wife I just don’t want to tell you what happens of course you know because it just builds up to it magnificently you know it just builds and builds and builds and then it hits and it’s just you know he seems to just have it like in his blood this developed sense a narrative you know I don’t know what it is I don’t know if it’s like the past brilliant authors working through him or something you know I mean he seemed so well-read and also he has that quality of authors who are no longer around he has that intelligence and maturity of authors from the past ol older authors you know it’s like something that I never come across but I also don’t read a lot of modern authors so this again yeah do that but I’ve known he’s got like this is deep these deep roots some sort of where is just a genius maybe it was what it is money has frequently uses repetition to connect the thoughts ideas and situations in this man’s life it’s like something happens and then there’s this mental or philosophical kind of meandering or dig up the digression you know sort of gets lost in thought and some anecdotes are brought up and then we kind of come back to the narrative but then we go off again it’s like taking cigarette breaks in the middle of the novel to kind of like drifted the thought but you’re traveling along with her you know maybe that was probably actually occurring well he wrote this he smokes a lot I think he like didn’t go to a talk at Oxford because he he would have to step outside and smoke or something like that I mean I think he spent some time at Oxford so it’s not like a huge deal that’s sort of funny that he passed on it because he wanted to smoke when he wanted to smoke and where he wanted to I can respect that ambiguity is also a recurring theme the idea that no matter the choices made the result eventually is the same whether you do or don’t do something you know the fear of missing out just sort of inconsequential on a long enough timeline at the end of a life or history or time.

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Everything is nullified what happens becomes equivalent to what didn’t I know he’s a fan of Thomas Bernhard and you can you can tell after reading passages like this one which I enjoyed a lot Thomas Barnard I’m gonna read something else by him he’s funny sometimes I have the feeling that nothing that happened is habitants because nothing happens without interruption nothing lasts orders or a ceaselessly remembered and even the most monotonous and routine of existences by its apparent repetitiveness gradually cancels itself out negates itself until nothing is anything and no one is anyone they were before and the week wheel of the world is pushed along by forgetful beings who hear and see and know what has not said never happens is unknowable and unverifiable what takes place is identical to what doesn’t take place what we dismiss are allowed to slip bias is identical to what we accept and sees what we experience identical to what we never try and yet we spend our lives in a process of choosing and rejecting and selecting and drawing a line to separate those identical things and make of our story in a unique story that we can remember and that can be told we pour all our intelligence and our feelings and our enthusiasm into the task of discriminating between things that will all be made equal if they haven’t already bitten and that’s why we’re so full of regrets and lost opportunities of confirmations and reaffirmation and opportunities grasped when the truth is that nothing is affirmed, and everything is constantly in the process of being lost or perhaps there never was anything the word nihilism seems so cheap and dusty to describe the stance taken by matthias because for all the sadness and tragedy and maybe cynicism and negativity or pessimism found within that passage somehow matthias never comes off as such you know as cynical or negative or not nihilistic somehow despite writing things such as that he communicates the fascinating mysterious profound beauty of life the possibilities but also the guarantee of the inevitable collapse of everything but it’s more of a beautiful drift into an immense unknown that has suggested that’s much of what life seems like in his novels this beautiful drift into an immense unknown memory is fallible but fiction is definitive

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He’s great he reminds me of he has a little bit of the demeanor of Jorge Mele bar-kays but regarding fiction you know it’s funny because you’re saying something you’re writing something that didn’t happen but definitively and that’s the way it is unquestionably because he wrote it that way that’s how it was written whereas in real life sure you could say something happened a certain way but are we really certain that’s how it happened now because everybody can refute it you know everybody can challenge that you know that’s not how it happened.

Nadia says one of the reasons we write and read novels and fiction in general is that it can’t be denied by anyone it’s interesting because you have that kind of like foundation when you write fiction you have this structure muddiness has never been married yet so much of the novel focuses on what happens when you’re married both positive and negative his ideas on the subject are fascinating I mean really for not having been married himself he’s very you know he’s very observant it’s eerily so you know Matias has never married but he often writes about the institution in his fiction usually as a crucible for his favorite conflicting themes our need to share confidences and the perils of saying too much that was from The New Yorker so much in the book is wrapped up in the idea of language of the Train ideas that can’t be ignored Mateus said I’ve never been interested in what some people called naturalism or some people call realism. I don’t worry very much about something that occasionally hasn’t been pointed out to me as a possible flaw, many of the narrators and characters speak in a very similar way even in dialogue. I’m not interested in using differentiated voices not even in dialogue it must be believable but that’s all I think on the contrary that it is a courtesy on the part of the author to give the reader something which is interesting and if possible intelligent I can’t bear very much the kind of dialogue you often find in many novels in which two non intelligent people are saying not intelligent things four pages on end.

So for an example of intelligent people saying intelligent things in hearts of white one of the greatest scenes in the book the scene the scene where I really realized I was reading a master is where the narrator mistranslates the words spoken by two politicians in front of the woman who has not yet his wife doing so intentionally to see how she’ll react so this is a set up you know he’s a high profile translator and so he’s at this event with these two politicians speaking to one another and I think they’re based off of I read it somewhere I think I’m not quite sure I think they’re based off of Margaret Thatcher and Felipe Gonzalez but I’m not I’m not certain but this woman comes in – well he’s an interpreter excuse me he’s and he’s interpreting so he’s saying he’s translating the words and speaking them aloud as they’re talking to one another so they can understand each other and this woman this translator comes in his future wife to verify that what he is saying is accurate to keep an eye on him you know if he if he messes up she’s supposed to say something she’s supposed to call him on it that’s her job so she’s sitting by him and he’s doing his job but he starts miss translating the dialogue that these two politicians are having to make it more interesting and he starts off kind of small at first but then he like ramps up and then he just like goes to town he starts just like putting these very interesting philosophical ideas in their conversation and but so they both think that they’re actually having this really profound dialogue you know and it’s it’s terrific it’s sort of an act of I mean it’s he’s kind of coming on to her right he is because she doesn’t stop it it’s an extremely romantic scene it’s also very funny.

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I mean it’s just so brilliant scene suddenly what would be drive small talk takes on profound significance as he orchestrates this intelligent conversation between these two politicians though it’s his future wife’s job to immediately correct him she doesn’t and this risky intimate action begins their relationship everything ties together but it’s not as if he had it all planned out in the beginning on the contrary you can feel the sense of discovery for the narrator and you know for you the reader but it seems to have been that way for him as well when he was writing the novel you know he’s writing to find out what happens we’re piecing the mystery together along with the author discovering the patterns and connections in the mystery of life but just like the character as well as us.

I imagine the author is left with far more questions and answers because just as in life nothing is resolved it might be the call to prayer so I moved to a Muslim neighborhood Muslim and polish neighborhood so the bells you heard earlier are from a Catholic polish cathedral and that would be the call to prayer so I hear both I love my neighborhood better than food it’s a hell of a book so who should read it anyone who enjoys for Hezbollah no Juan Rulfo Faulkner and in finally Shakespeare who I have not read enough of pick this one up it’s astoundingly beautiful it’s one of my absolute favorite books of all time better than food if there’s anything I mean it’s better than everything I mean it is a magnificent book I absolutely loved it. If you enjoyed this please subscribe if you haven’t already .

I hope this made your day better take care and I’ll talk to you soon have a good day.

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