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Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear (Vol. 1) Hardcover – June 17, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The mechanisms of reflection and digression, broken down into their tiniest constituent parts, are always the focus of attention in Spanish novelist Marías's sophisticated novels (A Heart So White; Dark Back of Time; etc.). In his leisurely, incisive latest, these preoccupations fuel a plot with a spy-novel gloss. Jaime Deza, separated from his wife in Madrid, is at loose ends in London when his old friend Sir Peter Wheeler, a retired Oxford don, introduces him to the head of a secret government bureau of elite analysts with the ability to see past people's facades and predict their future behavior. A cocktail party test proves Deza to be one of the elect, and he goes to work clandestinely observing all sorts of people, from South American generals to pop stars. Deza also brings his finely tuned mind to bear on Wheeler's mysterious past and on his own family history, both of which are shadowed by the Spanish Civil War. Marías's long-drawn-out dance of withholding and revelation comes to a halt mid-step—the book is the first half of a single larger work, not a stand-alone volume—but readers with an appreciation for the author's deliberate, exquisite prose won't mind waiting for the second volume. (June 24)
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Review

"Dazzling...Javier Marias writes with elegance, with wit and with masterful suspense."
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Product Details

  • Series: Advanced uncorrected proof
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (June 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,168,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am convinced that Javier Marías is one of the world's greatest living authors. "The Dark Back of Time" probably is one of the ten best books I have ever read, and "Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me" is an exceptional novel, with "A Heart So White" not far behind. So I approached this first volume of Marías's trilogy, presumably his magnum opus, with great anticipation. But having read it, I find that I will have to reserve judgment at least until I read Volumes II and III.

Javier Marías is not an easy author to read, but one does become accustomed to his convoluted sentences and his narrative sprawl and digressions. Still, I don't believe a newcomer to Marías should make YOUR FACE TOMORROW his introduction to Marías's elaborate, almost baroque, style. Further, the plot is thin, tissue-paper thin, much less substantial than in his other novels that I have read. And while there are many wonderful passages of astute observations or profound meditations, there also are passages that I find pointless, seemingly nothing more than Marías showing off (although I recognize that they may take on significance in Volume II or III).

The narrator, ostensibly, is the same Spaniard who narrated "All Souls." There he had the false name "Emilio"; here he is Jaime Deza (or Jacobo or Jacques). He is separated from his wife Luisa and young son, and he is back in Great Britain, specifically Oxford and London. Most of the novel pertains to either of two situations: one, Deza's lengthy conversations with Sir Peter Wheeler, an elderly Oxford professor and ex-MI6 agent, or two, Deza's work "interpreting" people (i.e., assessing or evaluating them) for a group with nebulous connections to British intelligence services.
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Format: Paperback
This book is the first part of a trilogy which has just been completed. I came across the author because of a truly wonderful story about his fear of flying in the summer 2009 issue of Granta. More recently, The Economist highly recommended the (third volume of the) trilogy, acknowledging that readers have to cope with several problems.
This first part is a personal and a family history, and a history of the Spanish civil war, by a man endowed with a unique talent. He is able-on the basis of brief encounters (interviews, sometimes observations with only a few words exchanged)- to assess persons, know them better than they know themselves and put his findings on paper, in report form. It is a very rare gift and his talent is turned into employment by a shady agency in London, after his marriage in Madrid breaks up. The agency and the history of his sponsors suggest he is hired to play a role in support of post-Cold War intelligence work. After all, he lived in the UK before he married, lecturing in Oxford, building a network of friends. Interesting!
However, Jaime Marias(JM) is his own writer, full of ideas and ambitions beyond a simple spy novel. The way the novel is written has led one Amazon.uk reviewer to give up reading well before reaching the half-way point. Why? Most pages are solid blocks of text, indentations are few, white lines absent. Fortunately, the chapters are fairly short. Real dialogues are rare. Usually, one character answers a question and holds forth for pages on end. It is sometimes interrupted by page-long musings by the hero himself, and then the lecturing continues. Is it a book written for women rather than men?
But it is also on occasion a warm, passionate book because of the personal ingredients.
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Violation of confidence, distrust, betrayal, secrets ... The narrator of this contemporary novel, which has, with some justification, been called Jamesian for its pondering style and non- linear structure, is obsessed with listening, noticing, interpreting, telling...

Javier Marías takes us into a world of secret services, history, and literature. That involves the history of the Spanish civil war. Orwell more than Hemingway. His main protagonist and narrator is a translator and journalist, suitably called Jaime. For Jaime, this history is personal, it affected his father, who had been on the republican side and was betrayed to the victors by a friend. The story has autobiographical components.

This is volume one of a trilogy. The language (translated convincingly from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa) builds up some resistance, it is not easily accessible, but once an initial hurdle is conquered, it flows and delights, like in many James stories, where one needs to find the door first. Nothing seems to be lost in translation here. This is, after all, also the language of John le Carré.

The narrator has a valuable gift, which makes him an asset to his secretive employers. He is a kind of living polygraph. His high social/ emotional intelligence enables him to 'read' people and look through their hidden agendas. That is the meaning of the enigmatic title of the novel. What happened to his father could not have happened to Jaime. He would not have been clueless like his father. Presumably. The word `prescience' comes up.
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