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While the Women Are Sleeping Hardcover – November 29, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These 10 stories underscore Marias's mastery of the surreal and evasive, but nobody will confuse this sampler of leftover stories with the author's best work. In the satisfying title story, an unnamed narrator, lying on the beach with his wife, can't stop speculating about the lives of another pair of beach goers: a much older man and a beautiful young woman named Inés. He eventually befriends the man, Alberto Viana, who confesses a desperate obsession with Inés, but Alberto's story doesn't satisfy the narrator, as it doesn't jibe with his invented scenario. The other longish story, "The Resignation Letter of Señor de Santiesteban," follows a young teacher named Derek Lilburn, whose new post at a prestigious school is jeopardized when he can't accept the existence of the story's title character, a benign ghost. Most of the rest of the stories feel under-developed, like sketches inspired by a clever idea, from doppelgängers to being stuck on an elevator. Marias (the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy) is a brilliant stylist and formidable intellect, but this haphazard collection does little to further his reputation. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

Rarely do we see a recommendation to athletic readers contemplating scaling Remembrance of Things Past that they first engage in strength building through Proust’s short stories; and yet, would you attempt to summit Mt. Everest without first attempting similar climbs? Lacking a natural tendency toward consumption of multivolume fictions, one would do well to start with shorter works, whether it be long-ago Proust or the more recent, hefty three-volume Your Face Tomorrow (2007, 2008, 2009) trilogy by the acclaimed Javier Marías. Publisher New Directions provides us with this collection of shorter works written throughout Marías’ writing life, including his first published story, written at the tender age of 14. It serves the role of primer well, as it showcases the threads that wind through his other works—uncertainty of roles, of relationships, of having one’s own voice, and of choosing when to abdicate that voice. For readers new to translated fiction, this latter element serves both to entertain and to train for those longer works. --Matthew Tiffany

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (November 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216630
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Javier Marías is an award-winning Spanish novelist. He is also a translator and columnist, as well as the current king of Redonda. He was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. He has held academic posts in Spain, the US (he was a visiting professor at Wellesley College) and Britain, as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University. He has been translated into 34 languages, and more than six million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. In 1997 he won the Nelly Sachs Award; the Comunidad de Madrid award in 1998; in 2000 the Grinzane Cavour Award, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and the Dublin IMPAC Award. He also won the Spanish National Translation Award in 1979 for his translation of Tristram Shandy in 1979. He was a professor at Oxford University and the Complutense of Madrid. He currently lives in Madrid.

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This is a collection of 10 short stories written by Javier Marias; all but one were written before 1991. I have previously read, and even been enthralled with two other Marias' works, Dark Back of Time and Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me A couple of Marias' themes that would appear in these major works, which were published in the mid-90's, are previewed in these stories, namely, the "King of Redonda," John Gawsworth, and the "beggar's curse" upon three generations of eldest sons dying far from home.

In the first story, which lends its title to this collection, Marias poses a moral dilemma that many of us have no doubt faced, and is best summed up by the following line: "You can't report intentions." Who amongst us has not talked with a stranger who is apparently quite mad, discussing his plans for mayhem or more, and do we just shrug, and say: "Yeah, but he'll never really do it," or, do we have an obligation to report those intentions, knowing that effective action by the authorities is highly unlikely. It is the sort of dilemma that Marias thrives in exploring.

In "Gualta," in just seven pages, Marias explores the ramifications of dealing with one's "double," and again this theme is touched on in "Lord Rendall's Song" when a World War II soldier comes home to his wife. In "One Night of Love" Marias topic is married love life, and how it could be "spiced up" by a seeming most unlikely source: love letters from the mistress of one's father.
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