Divorce Is in the Air

Gonzalo Torné, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell. Knopf, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-35402-8
In his American debut, Torné tells the story of a divorced man who is down on his luck and looking back on what went wrong with the primary romantic relationship of his life. Joan-Marc writes to his second wife about his first wife, Helen, and the various ways the beautiful Helen affected him—and ruined him. The book is structured without chapter breaks and mostly in flashbacks about how Helen dressed down Joan-Marc’s masculinity, refused to work, and drank all day. Their fights are terrible, full of nasty violence, insults, and sexist clichés. Joan-Marc’s first-person narrative bounces between Madrid and Barcelona while he explains how smart he is, and how everyone loves him, and yet his first wife was not able to appreciate his genius or take care of him properly, though the sex was great. Between his father’s suicide and his mother’s mental illness, Joan-Marc, or “John” as the American Helen calls him, struggles to pull his life back together. Torné has a rich vocabulary, and he takes us into the mind of a miserable man, but readers may find him a less than compelling protagonist to follow. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2016
Release date: 08/16/2016
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-385-35403-5
Hardcover - 978-0-451-49424-5
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