D Reading Room Presents Wonderful World by Javier Calvo
Part 5: Chapters 38-45
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.
The world is wonderful because the world is horrible.
Matilde Sausade, about whom we know damn little, and son Christian, about whom we know even less, meet the philandering Sausade, husband and father respectively, for a family meeting. Sausade begs for forgiveness for his transgressions. Iris Gonzalvo, in the next scene, shows off her dart-throwing skills in a bar filled with men watching her every perfect move. The (until now) elusive and inactive Koldo Cruz comes off the shelf—Calvo devotes an entire chapter to him!—and we learn that he is another run-of-the-mill, and by now pretty predictable, thug. And yet nothing is predictable in Wonderful World because before the chapter ends, Lucas Giraut gives us a real “huh?” by putting a note in Cruz.’s personal mailbox. This act—an overt and welcome effort to advance the plotline—is observed by Saudade. Meanwhile Leon, the Russian, meets with Pavel. Leon is curious and disturbed by Lucas’s emergence on the crime scene. And more plotification: Iris is dispatched to Mr. Traver’s palace to make a deal. Maybe this is The Deal. The Deal of the book. The reason we are reading this book. But, alas, there will be no deal, not yet. In other news, homecomings start to be a trial for some of our characters: Sausade comes home to the family unit, only to find himself locked out and his belongings on the pavement. Fanny Giraut arrives at her workout studio and finds it crawling with investigators, apparently dispatched by a court order prompted by son Lucas. We learn that Lucas’s note to Cruz was blackmail—and Lucas made it look like Fanny sent it. In WW, that is a no-no. Sausade gives Lucas a lecture to that effect.
Christine: So we get more bad behavior, and even though sin is a wearisome thing—so much repetition! no originality!—Calvo manages to hold our interest through more sex and lies because, to me at least, he is hilarious. This week I was grateful for a couple of plot twists, because we are more than halfway through the book, and something has to happen, for goodness’ sake. Still, I am looking for some principles that apply to these characters, some kind of code that they are willing to break into pieces or ignore or adhere to—just for the sake of cosmic order. I came up empty-handed. Anyone? Unable to find a code, I decided instead to troll for moments where characters behaved decently. And my winner so far is when Sausade and his wife Matilde, who were arguing about whether they should stay married after all of Sausade’s betrayals, asked their son to step out of earshot so they could speak freely and frankly. This book is so twisted that the simple act of semi-protecting the innocence of a minor leapt from the pages, for me at least. Are there other moments like this?
Also, I want to say bravo on comments on the last installment. Really great insights, research (thank you, Chuckwheat), and smart thoughts. Carry on!
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