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Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell (Vol. 3) Hardcover – December 1, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Marias concludes his enormously praised and disquieting trilogy with the last increment of Jacques Deza's story, finding him recruited as a character analyst by a shady British intelligence agency. He's working for Bertram Tupra, who welcomes Jacques into the intelligence fold by using him in his plot to assault a Spanish embassy employee. Soon, Tupra shows him horrifying blackmail videos gathered by the agency that poison Jacques's soul. The effect of this poison becomes apparent when Deza returns to Madrid to see his father and his estranged wife, Luisa, who sports a black eye presumably inflicted by her boyfriend, Estaban Custardoy. Jacques begins to secretly track down Custardoy with the intent of persuading him never to see Luisa again, and when Jacques finally confronts Custardoy, Marias's masterful depiction of the ecstasy of violence makes it difficult not to exult in Jacques's barbarous behavior. The intrigue yet to come pushes Jacques into a crisis of conscience. Costa does a flawless job of translating the strange mixture of high cultural references and Jacques's essentially thrillerlike story line, making for a reading experience like no other. (Nov.)
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Review

His most moving and personal work to date.--Megan Doll

The fear and pain that Mar as has built up for a thousand pages oozes out like oily fate. --Justin McNeil

This novel crowns Mar as's trilogy and his translator's lively English rendering of it with narrative honor. --John Spurling

Mar as's own seemingly infinite imaginings broaden and complicate the novel form illuminating the undersides of the past and its characters. --David Haglund

Like so much of Mar as's extraordinary writing, it is unforgettable. --Margaret Drabble "Books of the Year "

The fear and pain that Marias has built up for a thousand pages oozes out like oily fate. --Justin McNeil"

His most moving and personal work to date. --Megan Doll"

Your Face Tomorrow is already being compared to Proust s A la recherche du temps perdu, and rightly so. "

A seriousness of purpose, an eagerness to engage with ... metaphysical questions and to incorporate them into a gripping story. --Tess Lewis"

A literary tour de force ... as much about the past from which we are made as the present we have become. "

Like the other volumes in the sequence, Poison, Shadow and Farewell is as stealthy as any spy. --Louise Welsh"

This talented and prolific "new Proust" has completed the third book of his monumental trilogy.... The long sentences and paragraphs dear to Marias, a wordsmith translator of Sterne's Tristram Shandy as well as works by Faulkner, Conrad, and Nabokov, are a delight to navigate as the author pursues with surgical precision his relentless quest to discover what motivates the actions of his characters. Recommended. "

This novel crowns Marias's trilogy and his translator's lively English rendering of it with narrative honor. --John Spurling"

This deeply strange creation may very well be the first authentic literary masterpiece of the 21st century. --James Lasdun"

Poison, Shadow and Farewell delivers a payoff at the end, but the real challenge, and pleasure, is in getting there. --Larry Rohter"

Quite unlike anything else today . One of the finest novels of modern times. --Tim Martin"

The strange mixture of high cultural references and Jaques' essentially thriller-like story line, make for a reading experience like no other. "

The conclusion is to be reminded of the intricacy with which he has fitted his pieces into the larger part. --Colin Torre"

Here's the wonderfully parenthetical operations of a human mind in the 21st century. --Mauro Javier Cardenas"

He mediates thriller or noir scenarios through a formidably erudite and elegant and sophisticated consciousness. --Mark Ford"

Marias's own seemingly infinite imaginings broaden and complicate the novel form illuminating the undersides of the past and its characters. --David Haglund"

This brilliant trilogy must be one of the greatest novels of our age. --Antony Beevor ""Books of the Year" ""

Like so much of Marias's extraordinary writing, it is unforgettable. --Margaret Drabble "Books of the Year ""

The overall effect recalls the cerebral play of Borges, the dark humor of Pynchon, and meditative lyricism of Proust. "

By one of the most original writers at work today, Your Face Tomorrow [is] as accomplished and sui generis as all his mature work [and the] most affecting narrative feat in Marias s work to date. "
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 556 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811218120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811218122
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,344,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I agree that you must start at the first book. The third is, as one would expect, where the pieces fit together. I don't think it's overdoing it to describe the trilogy as one of the great works of modern literature. I have rarely read a novel as full of wisdom, insight, and provocative ideas, as Your Face Tomorrow. It is not always an easy read, it is dense, it takes digressions, and a key scene may stretch over 80 trance-like pages. At its heart though is a quiet rage at the violence done by man, particularly during the Spanish Civil War when Marias' father was targeted. The justifications for that violence and its consequences (whether the intention was deliberate or accidental), are at the heart of these books. And Your Face Tomorrow is also a thriller - albeit not in the conventional sense - acquiring a slow-burn intensity that drives you to its final pages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Volume Three of a 1273-page novel. It would be unwise to read Volume Three without having first read Volumes One and Two (which I have separately reviewed on Amazon). The real question, then, becomes whether reading all 1273 pages is a good use of one's finite reading time. That, of course, entails consideration of YOUR FACE TOMORROW ("YFT") in its entirety. Before turning to that issue, a few paragraphs on Volume Three.

In Volume Three, the first-person narrator, Jaime (or Jacobo or Jacques or Iago) Deza continues his story of working in London for an unnamed section of British intelligence (MI6 or SIS). The group is engaged in "interpreting" people - observing or spying on them, often from behind one-way mirrors or by watching videotapes, and then analyzing their character and personality and predicting how they would (or will) act in certain situations in the future. (What will be thy face tomorrow?) It fits nicely with Deza's voyeuristic tendencies as he passively floats through life, and although unusual it seems to be a fairly innocuous way of making a comfortable living. In the middle of Volume Three, Deza returns to his native Madrid for a two-week visit to his estranged wife Luisa, his two children, and his elderly father. Once there, Deza, to protect his wife and children (as he sees matters), is roused from his passive mode of existence and spurred to take action of a violent form. He then returns to London to find out that one of his seemingly innocuous interpretations (of a pop/rock star!) has had violent, lethal consequences. The synchronicity of these events raises all sorts of questions about whether it is possible to chart a moral course of conduct through life.
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Format: Hardcover
Javier Marias' conclusion to his three-volume novel is a tour de force. Expertly translated by his long-time collaborator, Margaret Costa, this lengthy tome demonstrates the full power of an author who truly deserves the Nobel Prize. I do highly recommend that readers begin with volume one and proceed through the entire book. This is not a series or a sequel. While you can enjoy this novel as a stand-alone, purely for the strength of the writing, the plot won't make much sense if you don't begin at the beginning. Those who value an intelligently written work that makes full use of language will love this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wake eager to return to this mesmerizing trilogy. Marias has become one of my favorite authors, each of his novels has been a pleasure to read. The experience of reading his novels is like that of reading Proust or Joyce. Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback
Having finished Volume 3 of this extraordinary trilogy, I think that I finally get the picture. This last volume ties up the threads spooled out in the first two and completes a somber, but penetrating picture of Marias's view of life and the intellect.
The story picks up first on Volume 2 and then in the last section, Farewell, ties up very subtly story lines begun in the very first volume. Section 5 of the 7, Poison, show us Tupra demonstrating to our hero, Deza, the various ways in which man can be inhuman to man. The theme here seems to be that the very act of seeing torture, murder, rape, bestial behavior of every stripe is infecting and debilitating. What it doesn't convince this reader of, is that given the prevalence of so much violent misbehavior, we have license to visit it upon one another, as Tupra did on the hapless de la Garza in Volume 2. I am also unconvinced by Deza's rather specious argument that to subscribe to Tupra's argument would make life unlivable. At the end of the book, Deza has subscribed, and is still living rather well, although we will discuss that more below.

In Section 6, Shadow, we see Deza practicing the same sort of torture on his estranged wife's boyfriend that Tupra dished out to de la Garza. And he does so without compunction. I found this most disturbing. His reasons for driving off Custardoy are self-serving and meretricious. In the final analysis, none of his business. But it leads us to some of the summarizing material in the last section of the book.

There we see the three main male figures either getting back together with their estranged wives, or explaining to Deza and us how they died.
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