Enrique Vila-Matas: El mal de Montano (Montano’s Malady)


The latest addition to my website is Enrique Vila-MatasEl mal de Montano (Montano’s Malady). This a wonderfully post-modern novel, following on from Bartleby y compañía (Bartleby & Co.), a romp through modern (primarily European and Latin American) literature and narrated by the father of the author of the book in Bartleby y compañía (Bartleby & Co.), who is suffering from what he calls literature sickness, i.e. he cannot help seeing everything as though it were literature and not real life. His wife Rosa, who is getting tired of this, often shunts him off to foreign climes (Chile, the Azores, Budapest) but there seems to be no easy cure. All the while, the narrator tells us of his problems (and, to a lesser degree, the problems of his son, who has writer’s block) while, at the same time, giving us a tour of mainly twentieth century literature. Various authors, some dead, some alive, actually appear in the book, and we get quotes, aphorisms, stories and portraits of many of these, while the narrator struggles to adapt to real life, a struggle which ultimately fails. It is witty, lively, thoroughly inventive and a joy to read. It is also available in English.

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