D Reading Room Presents Wonderful World by Javier Calvo
Part 4: Chapters 27-37
Welcome to D Reading Room, the online book club for people who like to read and riff about books. Our first title is Wonderful World by Javier Calvo, and it’s a fast ride. Some might say a bumpy ride. We say, let’s spend the next few months doing our best imitation of Michiko Kakutani and look at this book every which way. Calvo is one of Spain’s best new writers, and this is his first English translation. In the literary world, for what it is worth, this guy is hot stuff.
This week, Anibal Manta and Eric Yanel pull off the big heist at Hannah Linus’ gallery—not without problems, of course. Yanel can’t stop crying. Also, there’s a mysterious blackout that affects things that a “normal” blackout wouldn’t, such as battery-powered flashlights. Later Yanel unsuccessfully attempts suicide; the guy can’t even do that right. Speaking of attempting suicide, Iris Gonzalvo watches an entire DVD of Friends and rues the fact that she’s not famous. She decides to enlist the help of Lucas Giraut, thinking that he can help her with her showbiz endeavors. The two go to dinner at what sounds like the world’s most awful restaurant, where servers dress in surgical garb and there are images of “mutagenic explosions in the hallway leading to the bathrooms, where the nutritional act/mutated births find its parallel.” Since being freed by Donald Duck and the gang, Pavel goes to Manta for help and receives a beating instead. Juan de la Cruz Saudade takes a break from watching porn to have a not-so-heart-to-heart chat with his son about the whereabouts of his mother, who apparently has been arrested after beating the heck out of Hannah Linus. Lucas Giraut has a disturbing dream involving Down With The Sun Society, a bar, and a terrible flood. We get to read another chapter of Stephen King’s novel, in which main character Chuck Kimball has made it to Boston where he continues to try to elude the aliens who have taken over the world. Giraut has taken on legal counsel—courtesy of Mr. Bocanegra—in his fight against his mother and Mr. Fonseca, which means things are likely going to get even uglier. Despite getting her bum kicked by his wife, Hannah Linus can’t resist Saudade’s advances and sleeps with him again. (Sometimes the smartest women have the worst taste in men, right?) In that vein, Saudade lies about his cheating ways and blames his wife’s paranoia on her impending monthly visitor. We also learn—via his son—that Saudade cheated on his wife on their wedding day. With her sister. Poor, sweet Valentina Parini is hospitalized and talking nonsense about “them.” “They fly over the city, but they’re invisible,” she says. “They’re waiting for everything to be under they’re control.” She’s clearly insane. Or is she …
Laura: Never in a million years did I think I would be able to keep all of these characters straight, let alone care about them. But I really do—and none more than Valentina Parini. I guess because I was a total nerd-alert when I was her age (maybe I still am?), I have a special place in my heart for her. So is she—like many characters in Stephen King novels, actually—the only one who can see what’s coming but everyone dismisses as crazy? Or is she really nuts? Until this block of chapters, I sort of forgot about the supernatural element of the novel, because there was a lot of sex and crime in the previous weeks. So I wonder if Valentina’s madness is at all tied to Lucas Giraut’s odd dream about the bar filling with water?
Oh. And question: is there any place in the world—let alone another hospital—where one visits a child in the girl’s restroom? Awkward on a number of levels, but I’m thinking especially for the poor child with tummy issues. And God forbid you had any stage-fright issues while some man sits on a folding chair, talking to a child about “captors.”
So, what’s the deal? Is the Stephen King book some form of prophecy that only Valentina recognizes as true? Her revelations pretty much mirror the few chapters of the King novel we’ve been allowed to read.
Also, is it significant that Giraut brought Valentina a Pennywise the Clown lamp? I don’t know if you’ve ever read It, but Pennywise was scary. Like really scary. I read that book as an adult, and Pennywise scared the crap out of me. And while I’m not sure I would want any clown as a nightlight, I know I wouldn’t want that clown. But I’m wondering if this is symbolic. In It, a group of kids puts an end to Pennywise. Is Valentina going to be the hero of this book?
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