Friday, January 20, 2012

The Thread: Your Face Tomorrow: Fever & Spear by Javiar Marais

This will be the thread I continue to post on while reading Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear by Javiar Marias. If any reader feels so inclined, you may of course post your thoughts about the book in the comments section below.

I'm not sure how I feel about Your Face Tomorrow: Fever & Spear, the first book in Javiar Marias' trilogy about Jaime Deza, an agent in the British Intelligence Service with the uncanny gift of seeing "people...clearly and without qualms, with neither good intentions nor bad." On the one hand, this is a mostly philosophical text, heavy with profound insights into "seeing and not seeing," various kinds of relationships, literary and historical fogginess...On the other hand, the prose is, at times, awkwardly worded and punctuated - something that Jose Saramago used to great effect but which, here, feels contrived - and unnecessarily repetitive. There is no plot per se that I've been able to discern - I have 100 pages left of the novel - but that, for me anyway, is almost never a bad thing; some of my favorite works are "mood" pieces or, at least, don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end (see: Michal Ajvaz's The Golden Age, Grace Krilanovich's The Orange Eats Creeps, Eric Basso's The Beak Doctor or, even, Cormac McCarthy's Suttree). What Fever & Spear lacks, however, is an interesting narrator. That's not entirely true. Jaime is interesting or, rather, his thoughts on other people aren't interesting, but seems as if Jaime (or Jacques or Jacobo or Jack or Yago, as he often goes by) doesn't really know himself. Marias is himself aware of this, even writing about it: "He doesn't think much about himself, although he believes that he does (albeit without great conviction)." Obviously, it's an author trick, but I'm still not sure of it's purpose.

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