The item under review is a double issue of Spain’s literary periodical Ínsula, guest edited by Alexis Grohmann and Domingo Ródenas de Moya, and devoted entirely to the contemporary writer Javier Marías. It draws together a mixed bag of contributions by scholars in the field of the contemporary Spanish novel and short story, rounding off with a specially commissioned interview which is (according to Ródenas de Moya, who conducted it) partially transcribed at the conclusion of the magazine. That interview goes over ground that will be more than familiar to those with an interest in Marías, with perhaps the only new material coming out of a series of questions on the author’s relationship with Juan Benet, and specifically his reaction to reading La inspiración y el estilo. Scholars have long suspected that this early essay by Benet must have exercised a strong influence on the young Marías and it is helpful to hear his views on it now, albeit more than three decades after he must have first read it. Also included in this special issue is the speech Marías gave at the ‘Lecciones y maestros’ conference in Santillana del Mar in June 2008. Entitled ‘Para empezar por el principio’, it traces the literary vocation in his family back to his Cuban great-grandfather, Enrique Manera y Cao, a man of extraordinary deeds and appetites whose colourful life Marías recreates with understated humour. That Cuban heritage would eventually provide material for his most successful novel to date, Corazón tan blanco (1992) but in ‘Para empezar por el principio’ it prompts a series of reflections on verisimilitude in the stories we seek to tell about the past.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/teresa_boucher/14/