The Infatuations by Javier Marías

Withdrawn from South Dublin Libraries – Clondalkin Branch
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Description: The Infatuations is a metaphysical murder mystery and a stunningly original literary achievement by Javier Marías, the internationally acclaimed author of A Heart So White and Your Face Tomorrow.

Every day, María Dolz stops for breakfast at the same café. And every day she enjoys watching a handsome couple who follow the same routine. Then one day they aren’t there, and she feels obscurely bereft.

It is only later, when she comes across a newspaper photograph of the man, lying stabbed in the street, his shirt half off, that she discovers who the couple are. Some time afterwards, when the woman returns to the café with her children, who are then collected by a different man, and Maria approaches her to offer her condolences, an entanglement begins which sheds new light on this apparently random, pointless death.

With The Infatuations, Javier Marías brilliantly reimagines the murder novel as a metaphysical enquiry, addressing existential questions of life, death, love and morality.

The Infatuations is an extraordinary, immersive book about the terrible force of events and their consequences.

Opening: The last time I saw Miguel Desvern or Deverne was also the last time that his wife, Luisa, saw him, which seemed strange, perhaps unfair, given that she was his wife, while I, on the other hand, was a person he had never met, a woman with whom he had never exchanged so much as a single word.

The first thing I thought when I saw this cover was – “that’s Fairground Attraction”:

All I can find on this image is: Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt and was taken in 1955.

Apart from the obvious Eddi Reader songs playing parkour through my synapses, I also heard this as a hattip to our narrator. And whilst I’m filching from the Fab Four, there is only one song that goes with this mental tongue-twister of a discovery:

“If the real me is is this woman constantly making all these associations, things that a few months ago would have seemed to me so completely disparate and unrelated; if I am the person I’ve been since his death, that means that for him I was always someone else, and had he lived, I would have continued to be the person I am not, indefinitely.”

You can’t spoon-feed me irrationals, Marias, I will have to keep a specific lookout for where you make a point of saying, through a character, that people change with events, they drastically change after drastic events.

‘Professor Rico was wearing a charming Nazi-green jacket and an ivory-coloured shirt; his nonchalantly knotted tie was a brighter, more luminous green – melon green perhaps.’ hmm

If only that applied to this book! I only mean that halfway seriously because some of the musing was addictive, especially concerning Balzac and Athos.

5* Tomorrow in Battle Think on Me
3* The Infatuations

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