Juan Francisco Ferré: Providence


The latest addition to my website is Juan Francisco Ferré‘s Providence. Though the book is in Spanish and has not been translated into English, the title is in English as it refers, in part, to the city in Rhode Island, where much of the novel is set. I say in part, as Providence also refers to a video game, a website, a film/film script and Alain Resnais’ film of that name. Providence is also the birthplace of cult horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, who appears in this novel and has clearly influenced Ferré. The book tells the story of Alex Franco (one of several characters to share a surname with a famous person), a young Spanish film maker. After his first feature-length film flops at Cannes, he is approached by an attractive but older woman who asks him to develop a film script based on a book by an obscure Russian writer, called Providence. This reminds him of an event seven months previously in Marrakesh, when a mysterious Lebanese businessman got him to agree to a sort of Faustian pact. Franco heads off to Providence, where he will teach film and write the script. Much of his time in Providence seems to be spent having sex with inappropriate women but he does discover the dark side of Providence, the Lovecraftian side, if you will and things generally do not go well for him. This is a post 9/11 novel – it is mentioned more than once though is not key – and shows a world where chaos and menace are ever-present. I felt that he got too bogged down in the Providence story, even if we did get his potted view of the history of cinema, though the book starts and finishes well.

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