Quim Monzó: Benzina (Gasoline)

gasoline

The latest addition to my website is Quim Monzó‘s Benzina (Gasoline). This is a very funny, very post-modern novel about two Catalan painters in New York. The first is Heribert Julià who, when we first meet him, is married to Helena, owner of the gallery where he exhibits. Though they are married and seem happy with one another, they have numerous relationships and do not see other all that much, even at night in bed. Heribert, however, is bored or, more particularly, detached from the world. He has to paint some paintings for a forthcoming exhibition but cannot bring himself to do so. He has a new girlfriend, Hildegarda, but is already bored with her. He does post-modernist lists – of coloured condoms, of stamps and coins he has bought in large numbers, of different kinds of glasses in a bar – but this does not help. The only things that seems to move him is following Helena as he suspects that she has a new boyfriend. This does not really bother him but he is curious to know who it is and follows her in various outrageous disguises round New York. However, with yet another new girlfriend (whose name, of course, begins with an H) he has an accident and cannot paint for the exhibition. Helena has a ready-made substitute, Humbert Herrera, an unknown artist whom she has already persuaded Heribert to help. Humbert takes Heribert’s place, even as regards following, this time trying to find and seduce Hildegarda. It is a very funny and very post-modernist novel, mocking the New York art world.

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