Friday, July 28, 2017

Carlos Castán - Bad Light (Hispabooks, 2016) ****

A man is murdered. His friend muses over their friendship. There is not much action. There is no investigation, apart by the friend himself, near the end, rummaging through his appartment looking for clues. The rest of the novel is an abstract investigation, about life, about art, about the relationship between the individual and life and art. It is a philosophical quest, more than a crime investigation. It is a search for a lost friendship, a reconstruction of lost loves too, as both men have become single recently.

Castán's style is poetic, meandering from thought to memory and back in a kind or abstract stream of consciousness, and every fact, and meeting and plot twist is lifted to a higher level, a comparison with art, with philosophy all drenched in an incredible sadness and darkness. Even love does not bring light, only sorrow and a sense of abandonment: "One cannot truly love a safe haven unless there are dark forces lurking outside, a world brimful of orphanages and tombs and beasts, of children who have gone hungry that night and a wind that howls as it whips around the corners of the neighborhoods in which we had never set foot".

This novel will not cheer you up, but offers the kind of writing that luckily escapes the "creative writing" courses that destroy literature, offering a voice that is special and unique, that defies commercial interests or even literary pretense. That authenticity and careful craftmanship, together with a wonderfully sustained and balanced atmosphere make it a strong book.

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