Javier Marías: Así empieza lo malo [Thus Bad Begins]


The latest addition to my website is Javier MaríasAsí empieza lo malo [Thus Bad Begins]. This is another excellent novel from Marías about marital relations, the enduring effect of the Civil War and the Franco era on contemporary Spain and betrayal and deceit. Juan de Vere is now around fifty but tells of events when he was twenty-three, in around 1980. He was working as the secretary to Eduardo Muriel, a film director who had had some success in the past but had not had much recently. Muriel asks him a vague question about how he, de Vere, would react if someone who was close to him may have betrayed him but refuses to give further details. He finally admits that it concerns a friend of his, a Dr Van Vechten and later he asks de Vere to take him with him when he goes out at night, to see how Van Vechten behaves with women. De Vere makes some interesting discoveries about Van Vechten. Meanwhile, when spending the night there, de Vere has heard Muriel being very cruel towards his wife, Beatriz. He determines to investigate but, while his investigations do not lead to any conclusions, he finally gets Muriel to tell him the full story. Betrayal, lying, deceit and the legacy of the Civil War and the Franco period are all involved. It is an excellent story and Marías keeps us guessing to the end as to what is really going on.

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