Mirroring, ghosts, and doubles are all present in these haunting short stories by the celebrated Spanish author Javier Marías.He asks for the reader's kindness towards "The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga" as it was written when he was 14 – but this is disingenuous on his part as it is a wonderful short story about a man talking after his death. Marías's narrators are usually male and experiencing some kind of identity crisis. In the title story, a man films his beautiful young girlfriend every day on the beach, while she preens herself in a mirror; in "Gualta", a man spots his double and instantly loathes him; in "A Kind of Nostalgia Perhaps", an old woman waits for the ghost of a national hero. Superb.I
New York Times bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley presents a modern retelling of the literary classic Beowulf, set in American suburbia as two mothers—a housewife and a battle-hardened veteran—fight to protect those they love in The Mere Wife.
From the perspective of those who live in Herot Hall, the suburb is a paradise. Picket fences divide buildings—high and gabled—and the community is entirely self-sustaining. Each house has its own fireplace, each fireplace is fitted with a container of lighter fluid, and outside—in lawns and on playgrounds—wildflowers seed themselves in neat rows. But for those who live surreptitiously along Herot Hall’s periphery, the subdivision is a fortress guarded by an intense network of gates, surveillance cameras, and motion-activated lights.
For Willa, the wife of Roger Herot (heir of Herot Hall), life moves at a charmingly slow pace. She flits between mommy groups, playdates, cocktail hour, and dinner parties, always with her son, Dylan, in tow. Meanwhile, in a cave in the mountains just beyond the limits of Herot Hall lives Gren, short for Grendel, as well as his mother, Dana, a former soldier who gave birth as if by chance. Dana didn’t want Gren, didn’t plan Gren, and doesn’t know how she got Gren, but when she returned from war, there he was. When Gren, unaware of the borders erected to keep him at bay, ventures into Herot Hall and runs off with Dylan, Dana’s and Willa’s worlds collide. My view What an engaging read. I am not particularly familiar with the literary classic Beowulf, although I did look up a synopsis to get a general idea. This story takes us into modern days. The protagonists Dana and her son Gren make their home in a cave, while Willa and her son Dylan inhabit the modern gated community Herot Hall. Other characters are Roger, husband to Willa, father of Dylan. The story kept me engaged from the very beginning to the very end. As the story progresses, prejudice, hate, delusion takes hold of the characters. Reality becomes blurred, through preconceived ideas which lead to violence, murder. Who are the villains? Dana a former Marine? Willa the young housewife of Herot Hall? Any one of the many characters? I highly recommend THE MERE WIFE. It matters not that you are or not familiar with the classic literary work Beowulf, This novel will take you on a wild ride... Thank you to NetGalley and FSG