Quim Monzó: Benzina (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.

Quim Monzó: La magnitud de la tragèdia (The Enormity of the Tragedy)


The latest addition to my website is Quim Monzó‘s La magnitud de la tragèdia (The Enormity of the Tragedy). Initially, this seems like a sexual parody, as Ramón-Maria, a widower of one year, a trumpet player in a burlesque show and former publisher, living with his teenage stepdaughter, Anna-Francesca, who hates him with a passion, has successfully wooed one of the actresses from the show, where he works, Maria-Eugenia. However, he has drunk too much and when they get into bed, he cannot perform. However, he wakes up that night with an erection, an erection he cannot get rid of. At first, this seems like something enjoyable, as he has a succession of sexual encounters with Maria-Eugenia and then with her friend. Anna-Francesca herself is also having an active sex life, though, as there is no communication at all between step-daughter and step-father, Ramón-Maria is completely unaware of this. However, Ramón-Maria finally goes to the doctor and learns he has a condition from which he will die in seven weeks. The book changes tone at this point, as he confronts his likely imminent death. He is also unaware that Anna-Francesca is plotting his death. He thinks of his death but then decides to go for a second opinion. This book seems to be a post-modernist view of Spain, where sex (and, to a lesser degree, violence) are common, and normal communication has faded away, though it could be just considered a sexual parody.