Bad Nature, or with Elvis in Mexico
Javier Marías is one of those names one often hears tossed around, usually coupled with, "is going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature!" Yet when I peeked at his most famous work, Your Face Tomorrow - which I've heard described as "1,000 pages detailing 10 minutes of espionage" - it seemed to consist of a single paragraph and some infinitely long sentences. But then Bad Nature arrived, and it was of a much more manageable size, and it had an amusing subtitle. I opened it up and yup, there were those long, twisty sentences again, but suddenly I found them addictive and compelling; they grabbed me like an undertow and dragged me into this bizarre, hilarious, and wonderfully dark tale of Elvis' Spanish translator and the scary shenanigans he and the King get up to. This short little book really is like a whirlpool: it's exhilarating to find yourself sucked in, tossed around - narrowly avoiding some sharp rocks - and then chucked back out again. I resort to metaphor because a large portion of the joy of this story is discovering it for yourself and being surprised by it. I for one was not expecting such humor and verve. If they're at all like this, then 1,000 pages detailing 10 minutes of espionage do not sound at all bad to me. -- Anna Kaufman
It all happened because of Elvis Presley. Elvis, down south of the border to film a movie, has insisted his producers hire a proper Spaniard so that he can pronounce his few lines in Spanish with a Castillian accent. But Ruiberriz has taken on much more than he bargained for. One fatal night, horseplay in a local bar goes too far: a fatuous drunken American insults the local kingpin, and when the thug insists that Ruiberriz translate, Elvis himself adds an even more stinging comment and who must translate that?