Author : Enrique Vila-Matas
Translator : Margaret Jull Costa
Publisher : Speaking Tiger International Books
Genre : Short Stories
Source : Publisher
Rating : 2.5/5
Short story collections are always a hard bet. You may like some you may like everything, you may dislike some you may dislike everything. But it is a brilliant genre, one that I am particularly interested in reading more of and always in the hope that I will fall in love yet again. Alas, with this collection, I almost fell in love each time and then, I didn’t.
This collection is filled with stories that range from his earliest works to his much later stories, each one in his signature style (which doesn’t seem to have changed all that much which I suppose, is the mark of a talented author). Unfortunately for me, his signature style is just not for me. The stories are all beautifully written, don’t get me wrong, they are descriptive, interesting and oftentimes captivating. But they are unnecessarily long winded and sometimes, most lines seem to fail at pulling me in or delivering the emotion I expect he meant it to deliver.
WHAT I LIKED : I adored the author’s descriptive writing. I can picture each place beautifully and that is what one looks for in stories set in places we haven’t and probably never will see. Spain in a recurring theme in these tales and I can feel how much he loves his country and it’s people and customs and that love makes me feel affectionately about those stories I enjoyed here.
Some of the characters and stories here are unique and surprising. For instance, there is a story told from the point of view of a mosquito net observing a couple who are in a different country. And another about a man who was spying on his ex wife. Some of these will leave you in awe of the author’s ingenuity.
WHAT I DISLIKED : But my biggest dislike is the endings and POVs. Most of the characters seemed to be the same person, maybe they’re all the author? whether it is the people watchers or the mosquito net I mentioned earlier, they seem like the same person and I ended up feeling like I was reading a long story about one character. Another thing was the endings. It almost feels like the author wasn’t sure how to end the stories. They fell so flat. I am not one who wants a satisfactory ending in a story, particularly a short story but these just didn’t work for me.
There are characters here that I think are famous in Spain but that I do not know. so that might have been cause for me not enjoying a couple of tales here. Atleast that’s what I felt, those stories seemed incomplete and blank to me but since a lot of people have raved about them this is the conclusion I must come to. This isn’t necessarily a dislike but more of a disadvantage for those outside of Spain reading these stories.
I would suggest this for people who are already fans of Spanish literature and are looking to read someone they missed (this is, I believe, the first ever translation). I think this is my first completed contemporary Spanish author and I’m excited for that.
Enrique Vila-Matas is widely hailed by his peers and readers as one of the greatest writers of fiction in contemporary Spanish literature. Gathered for the first time in English, and spanning the author’s entire career, Vampire in Love offers a selection of Vila Matas’s finest short stories.
A father summons his son to his deathbed to tell him that he arranged for his wife’s death. An effeminate, hunchbacked barber—known to everyone as Nosferatu—decides to see, one last time, the choirboy he has fallen in love with. A fledgling writer on amphetamines visits the French writer Marguerite Duras’s Paris apartment and watches his dinner companion slip into the abyss. An unsuspecting man receives a mysterious phone call from a lonely ophthalmologist, visits his abandoned villa, and is privy to a secret. And a writer on vacation decides—as a way of paying tribute to the pioneering composer Erik Satie—to reply to nineteen emails without reading them.
The stories in Vampire in Love, brilliantly translated by renowned translator Margaret Jull Costa, are all told with Vila-Matas’s signature erudition and wit and his provocative, relentless questioning of the interrelation of art and life.