Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: The Imaginary Life by Mara Torres

Who doesn't spend a lot of time rehashing past occurrences or wondering how a situation could have been different? I revisit conversations and decisions in my head all the time. In fact, I am never so witty or biting or astute as when the voice is only in my head long after the actual fact. In Mara Torres' novel, newly translated from the Spanish, this is how the main character goes about her life, living very much in her own head, dwelling on her lost relationship, and wishing very much to change the past.

Nata Fortuno's boyfriend Beto has dumped her and she's finding it impossible to move on with her life. She is convinced that he will come back to her because he once told her that it would be impossible for him not to love her. But everyone else in her life knows that they are truly over and so she has few people to talk to about her longing for this dead relationship. In lieu of friends willing to discuss her feelings with her, she commits her thoughts to paper, runs them through her head over and over again, and imagines visiting Beto and being visited by him in turn as she goes about her days. Even as she does all of this, she does her job, goes out with friends, daydreams about another man, and generally tries to get on with her life the way everyone tells her she should.

The novel is completely interior and because Nata has a very active imagination, the reader never quite knows what is real and what she's created to suit herself. Even in her created conversations, she doesn't let herself off the hook, having an imaginary Beto tell her that she doesn't really understand love, that she's too busy searching for excitement to realize that love exists in the quiet, boring moments of life. But Nata has no impetus to actually learn this until she starts to think about Mauro, the new guy she meets at work. As much a problem as her desire for flash over substance is, her fear of being hurt again is equally as crippling.  It's a fear that drives her to look backwards at the past relationship she knows rather than the unpredictability of the one she could choose to start.

Nata's narration is alternately self-aware and completely clueless. Some of the situations she makes up, such as moving to Argentina and bartending, are pretty wild but they also feel a bit out of place and unnecessary to the narrative. The plot tension is fairly low all the way through as most of the novel focuses on Nata's obsessing about Beto and their lost relationship. And whether it was because the novel was translated or because it was just written this way, there were more than a few moments I had to go back and read pages again, checking to see if I had missed a page or several. So the narrative, despite taking place almost completely inside Nata's head, felt choppy and a little confusing. As we all replay things in our heads, it was an interesting premise for sure but it just didn't quite pull it off.

For more information about Mara Torres and the book, take a look at the book's page on GoodReads. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.


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