Snippet: José María Guelbenzu, discovered

José María Guelbenzu, Los poderosos lo quieren todo [The mighty want it all], 2016, 320 p.

This blogger had never given any attention to this author until he read in El País that Guelbenzu (Madrid, 1944) was the author of more than 20 novels. And he became really astonished when he read in the Spanish Wikipedia that the author is known mainly for his crime novels that have the investigative magistrate Mariana de Marco as protagonist.

The publisher’s summary of the latest one:

«A crazy family, an esoteric journey, a story full of humor and a quiet moral tale. It reads without stopping and it leaves an acid and tender aftertaste».
Eduardo Mendoza

Hermógenes Arbusto, a tax counselor and successful businessman of all kinds of businesses, watches Death enter his office one day and, acting very quickly, he manages to escape the blow of the scythe, dashes to the door, runs out and locks the door twice, leaving the Reaper shut in. Shortly afterwards and while he tries to recuperate in Madrid’s main square, he arrives at a Faustian deal with the devil, the distinguished Forcas (on a permit to visit the Earth), whom he sells his soul with the aim of avoiding, at least temporarily, a new encounter with the Cold Lady [the reaper]. Meanwhile, Tomás Beovide, poet and teacher of literature at Juan García Hortelano High School, marks exams, laments that his girlfriend left him, thinks with melancholy about the love encounter with Maribel Arbusto that didn’t have a happy ending [?], and he consoles himself listening with joy to the suffered [?] love songs of his admired Julie London. And we won’t tell more as all that follows is pure folly, an improbable narrative where a wild and opinionated nonsense constructs its own logic until it riles up any reasonable expectation or argument.

Sounds crazy; this blogger will start with Guelbenzu’s crime novels:

  • No acosen al asesino (2001), [Don’t harass the assassin] (Mariana de Marco 01)
  • La muerte viene de lejos (2004), [Death comes from far away] (Mariana de Marco 02)
  • El cadáver arrepentido (2007), [The repentant corpse] (Mariana de Marco 03)
  • Un asesinato piadoso (2008), [The pious murder] (Mariana de Marco 04)
  • El hermano pequeño (2010), [The little brother] (Mariana de Marco 05)
  • Muerte en primera clase (2012), [Death in the First Class] (Mariana de Marco 06)
  • Nunca ayudes a una extraña (2014), [Never help a strange woman] (Mariana de Marco 07) doesn’t list any of Guelbenzu’s works [bibliography; Spanish] as available in English.

[Apologies for a long silence caused by childhood illnesses typical of winter, job hunting, preparations of a Spanish exam…]


SOURCE: review by Rut de las Heras Bretín, El País, March 5, 2016, p. 30 (printed edition); Siruela (publisher); Wikipedia (Spanish)


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