cover image Gasoline


Quim Monzo. Open Letter (Univ. of Nebraska, dist.), 14.95 (141pp) ISBN 978-1-934824-18-4

A creative block has ramped up the paranoia of artist Heribert Juliá and weakened his already tenuous hold on reality. New mistress Hildegarda bores him already, and wife Helena interests him only in her extramarital intrigues. A Hopper painting, the changing numbers on a digital alarm clock, the international stamps in a shop window, almost anything is apt to send Heribert into an extended free-associative riff in the eclectic Monzó’s (The Enormity of the Tragedy) novel, first published in Spain in 1983. The twisty tale of sublime self-involvement and self-torture is set in Manhattan and covers a year in Heribert’s life. There is a plot, albeit loose, as Helena’s lover, Humbert, not only supplants Heribert in bed, but seems to eclipse him as an artist; the ultimate, and perhaps unkindest, cut of all is that in the final chapters Humbert takes over as the protagonist of the novel. Monzó delivers drollery on nearly every page, in observations that are incisive and hilarious and horrifying, often all at once. (June)