This book is interesting in that it does not have a story line. After the prologue, which has an interviewer showing up at the author’s home for an interview and describing him, his appearance and his responses, the book continues on to 300 segments in Spanish, a few in Italian and English, followed by an epilogue. The style is all over the place, with some segments or fragments of unrelated text, verses, riddles, jokes, hundreds of rhetorical questions, and even bits and pieces of what appear to this reader to be some literary gossip. The segments range in size from a one line comment to a seven page account of a man’s relationship with his wife, who is the sister of the 1st person teller of the story. We don’t know if this person is the author or someone else. Frequently the speaker or the subject is not identified.
The overall idea of the book is very different and unusual. As one reads the prologue it would appear to be a traditional novel in which the author is the protagonist, but as you continue to read you realize that this is a very original work. In itself it is a puzzle. It is as if the writer had taken snippets of his writings over the years and threw them into the air, picking them up at random as they fell and put them together into a book. It’s a writer’s collage.
The themes dealt with are universal, life, death, sex, love and even pure silliness such as the segment about dogs on page 73. The most frequent literary device he uses is the rhetorical question. While there are hundreds of segments there are even more hundreds of questions.
There is a lot of name dropping, and part of the fun of reading this book is figuring out who the individuals are. An example of this is on page 71, where the segment says that he, an unnamed subject was not named to the academy because he was a friend of Arturo who in turn was a friend of Javier, who in turn was to Alvaro, who in turn was to Luis who in turn was to Pere, but because he was a friend to all of them. It is clear to this reader that those named are members of the Real Academia: Arturo Pérez Reverte, Javier Marías, Alvaro Pombo, Luis Goytisolo Gay and Pere Gimferrer Torrens.
The author defines his genre as “monotonías” which this reader would be hesitant to translate as “monotonies” since the book is certainly not monotonous.
I looked for the blindman in the window and found him on page 60, at the bottom of the page, where the past is imperfect and he can’t see the future. There is a pervasive melancholy to this book given all the ruminating about death and the unanswered questions about the reason for it all. The book ends with an epilogue narrated as an obituary by the author’s lover and we see him as the Ciego en la ventana.