Enrique Vila-Matas, Mac y su contratiempo [Mac and his setback], 2017, 304 p.
Mac has just lost his job and takes a daily walk through El Coyote, the Barcelona neighborhood where he lives. He is obsessed with his neighbor, a famous and recognized author, and he feels offended everytime that this author ignores him. One day he overhears him talking to the bookseller about his first novel “Walter y su contratiempo”, a book from his youth full of incongruent passages, which he remembers vaguely, and Mac, who cherishes the idea of writing, decides in this moment that he will modify and improve this first story that his neighbor would prefer to leave in oblivion. “The novels that I like are always like Chinese boxes, they are always full of stories,” affirms the narrator of this astonishing novel that disguises as a very funny diary, as an essay on the origin and process of writing, as a criminal investigation, and as an apprentice novel. Enrique Vila-Matas destroys the myth of the necessity of an own voice while he reworks tradition in order to prove that he is the owner of one of the most personal voices of the contemporary literary landscape; he allows himself to touch in depth the process of literary creation without foregoing to offer the readers moments of true laughter; he praises normality through an eccentric and peculiar protagonist, and he pretends improvisation in a masterly novel that contains different levels of reading, surprises as to the story, really great finds, thanks to a structure that is able to flip around like a sock from the exact middle of the book, leaving the readers with open mouthes until its perfect ending.
Funny and profound. Accessible and erudite. The best Enrique Vila-Matas.
This blogger enjoyed Vila-Matas’ weekly columns in El País‘ Sunday-supplement “Domingo” during the early 2000s…
SOURCE: Seix-Barral – Planeta (publisher)