Reviews for Infatuations

Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
*Starred Review* Marías has earned major literary prizes in his native Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Chile, and Ireland. A novelist's novelist, a consummate stylist, his works have been translated into 42 languages. The plot of The Infatuations has elements of a thriller. The narrator, María Dolz, eavesdrops on a conversation that undoes all she thinks she knows about Javier, her lover, and his dear friend, the victim of an apparently brutal and senseless murder. What she believed was a tragedy may be the result of a conspiracy. When Javier speaks of Balzac, María thinks of her father's favorite, Dumas père, and quotes from Macbeth appear; yet these postmodern tropes are never more alive than in Marías' respectful hands. The cadences of his exquisite sentences are preserved in translator Costa's English, the clauses balanced like a loaded scale; detail accumulates yet also erodes and turns elusive. The more precise the descriptions of passion and reflection, the more fleeting these states appear: the object of our attention and its dark shadow vie for supremacy. It is magical, stupendous, and not done for effect. Marías dramatizes the fluidity of attention as María persuades herself, and us, of the truth and of its opposite. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #2
An apparently random street murder sparks musings on shades of guilt and the mutability of truth in the distinguished Spanish writer's latest (Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, 2007, etc.). For years, María Dolz has idealized Miguel Desvern and his wife, Luisa, as the perfect couple, basing this image on the loving interactions she observes at the Madrid cafe, where she has breakfast before heading to her job at a publishing house. (Marías pokes fun throughout at authors' vanities and quirks.) After Miguel is stabbed to death by a deranged homeless man, María introduces herself to Luisa and through her meets Javier Díaz-Varela, a family friend devoted to helping the shattered widow rebuild her life. María and Javier embark on an affair, but when an overheard conversation reveals that Miguel's death was not what it seems, the lovers engage in a long conversational fencing match. Did Miguel ask Javier to arrange his death because he had a horrible fatal disease? Or did Javier incite his best friend's murder because he coveted his wife? As always with Marías, there are no definitive answers, only the exploration of provocative ideas in his trademark style: long, looping sentences (superbly translated by Costa) that mimic the stuttering starts and stops of a restless mind. It's no accident that María's and Javier's first names combine to form their creator's full name; they voice his consciousness. Marías' rare gift is his ability to make this intellectual jousting as suspenseful as the chase scenes in a commercial thriller. He's tremendously stimulating to read; arresting turns of phrase enfold piercing insights, such as an overbearing character's "charming Nazi-green jacket" or the dark vision of "continuous, indivisible time…eternally snapping at our heels." Though eschewing overt political commentary, the novel makes crystal clear the bitter contemporary relevance of someone who believes guilt can be evaded through "murder-by-delegation." Blindingly intelligent, engagingly accessible--it seems there's nothing Marías can't make fiction do. No wonder he's perennially mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 March #1

Titles by Marías have sold six million copies in 50 countries worldwide, and his prizes range from the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the Prix Femina Étranger. His devoted following in the United States is about to get bigger with his shift to a powerhouse publisher. Already a best seller in Europe, this work is a murder mystery wrapped in a novel of ideas, asking questions about love, mortality, and truth vs. appearance. María Dolz can't help admiring the couple she spots daily at the Madrid caf where she breakfasts; they seem so much happier than she is. Then the husband is murdered, and when María pays the widow a sympathy call, she meets (and falls for) a man with disturbing insights into the crime.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 August #1

The blockbuster "Your Face Tomorrow" trilogy is a tough act to follow, and this latest novel by Spanish novelist Marías, whose prizes range from the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the Prix Femina Étranger, is very much in a minor key. Similar to Marías's previous works, this novel is devoid of plot, which is propelled by a half dozen or so conversations and meetings. The focus of the action is the murder of distinguished film distributor Miguel Desvern, whom the female protagonist María Dolz has been observing with his wife, Luisa Alday, with whom she now strikes up a friendship. Shortly thereafter, Javier Díaz Varela (Desvern's best friend) becomes romantically involved with both María and Luisa. Marías turns a narrative about an apparently random homicide into a metaphysical inquiry fraught with ambiguity as accounts of the incident vary in their degree of accuracy and detail, a plot twist presents a questionable motive, and even the victim's name isn't certain. The story is focused more on death than falling in love, contrary to the title. VERDICT From this novel, it is easy to see why Marías is among Spain's most celebrated writers living today, but his fluid yet digressive style may not be to everyone's liking. When it comes to a novel exquisitely questioning the nature of fact and truth, however, this is a highly rewarding literary experience. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/13.]--Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #4

Marías (While the Women Are Sleeping) shows that death is hardest on those left living. Each morning María Dolz has breakfast at a cafe watching perfect couple Miguel and Luisa. One morning Miguel is stabbed to death on his birthday by a knife-wielding panhandler, a seemingly random act of madness. This rupture in María's idyllic voyeurism causes her to intersect her life with Luisa's, enmeshing herself in the murder's aftermath. Yet, as the story unfolds it becomes clear that nothing is certain but death. With philosophical rigor, Marías uses the page-turning twists of crime fiction to interrogate the weighty concepts of grief, culpability, and mortality. Indeed, scattered throughout are metafictional reflections on the limits and power of literature's hypotheticals, while María's job at a publishing company provides comic relief in its caricatures of the vanities of writers. The novel's power lies in its melding of readable momentum and existential depth. Through Costa's lucid translation, the prose exhibits Marías's trademark clarity and digressive uncertainty; a novel that further secures Marías's position as one of contemporary fiction's most relevant voices. (Aug.)

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