Book Review: A Heart So White by Javier Marías (1992)

heart-so-whiteA Heart So White by Javier Marías
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

What do I wish to hear? About the present? The past, may be? Or a little tune on the waiting future? Do I wish to eavesdrop on my best friend to find out what she thinks of me when I am not around? Am I tempted to open a letter addressed to my partner with no overt allusion to my name or salutation on the envelope? Am I inclined to return to an unknown place just so I can hear a random conversation complete in my mind? Do I wish to pause a few seconds longer at the traffic so I can hear the banter in the adjacent car? Am I willing to take that pain? Am I willing to take that time? Am I willing to listen?

Javier Marías’ tale is the silence that bids its time between two words, it is the unscrupulous clock that ticks for one and cheats another, it is the nebulous doubt that lies suspended between the free and the bound.

“An instigation is nothing but words, translatable, ownerless words that are passed from voice to voice and from language to language and from century to century, always the same, provoking people again and again to the same act for as long as there have been people and languages and ears in the world to hear them.”

For days together, I oscillated between Juan and his many roles. Seamlessly switching between a faithful spouse and a steadfast friend, a tentative son and a diligent interpreter, Juan appeared serene on surface. But his ears were in rebellion. He simply could not give up listening. And in this hallucinatory air, his auditory brilliance spilled open many floodgates that bore ‘no entry’ boards on themselves.

Almost like a bottomless pit, an obscene way of crediting the dexterity of mind, all the words, spoken and unspoken, coalesced in his nervous maze, propelling him towards invading the unknown, the unnecessary.

“Berta was fascinated by the unknown, nobody can resist participating in an experiment and returning with news, even when they don’t know what the experiment’s about.”

Marías’ experimental writing runs amok, picking filial relationship, poking domestic fabric, stress-testing old friendship and disrobing secrets and then, masterfully, synthesizing all into an incredible structure of many sharp edges – much like a diamond. A diamond, so sparkling on surface, coal black at its heart.

Marías’ says in his novels, there is a constant struggle between the desire to know and the convenience of not knowing. That how much, the struggle, can drain the colour of the heart, is anyone’s guess.

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Read all my reviews here.

 

[Image courtesy pixabay.com]

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