Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Mañana by William Hjortsberg

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

On the surface Mañana (Spanish for 'tomorrow') has the makings of a great book.  Tod has a drug-fuelled party with some friends and his wife. The next morning Tod wakes up next to a dead woman, his wife has vanished into thin air and he has no idea how the woman died.  I don’t know whether it was a clash of cultural style but I really struggled to get into this book although I did persevere to the end.
My main grievance is the character Tod. I feel there is a disconnect between what is coming off from the book and what is supposed to come across from the explicit statements of how Tod feels. I just don’t understand the character at all. Tod is supposed to have these worries about where his wife is, how much money he has, but the book doesn’t really reflect this. He spends his first few days smoking and sitting in cafés. It didn’t come across to me that Tod was truly concerned about his wife. If it were me, I would restructure the book, so that the section on how he met Linda, his wife, and fell in love was the prologue. I would also restructure the flashbacks, which stop and start in the middle of paragraphs/sentences into defined paragraphs for clarity.

My second grievance is that I found the plot naïve and flawed. How is Tod to trust what he finds out about the death of the woman from his so-called friends and wife? It would be in the murderers interest to deny that they killed the woman so how will Tod genuinely know what has happened?  Also, Tod had very little to go off in terms of searching for the rest of the people involved. 
I didn’t find this book very believable either. There is supposed violence, potential and actual, that seems very far-fetched. Yes it is fiction but it also has to be believable.

At times the book reads like a shopping list, Tod spends pesos at this café and that café; he gains pesos here and there and there is the occasional conversion of pesos to dollars. Having read an autobiography that had this same monetary discussion, this is more a personal dislike and so isn’t really the fault of the author. Also, if you dislike fragments (e.g. “Did this…” “Spent pesos on…”) then this may not be for you.

Overall, I was disappointed. This book has a lot of potential to be much better than it is, perhaps it would translate better as a film. Thanks to the publishers for giving me this eGalley through NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Book Facts
Original Publication: 2015
Pages: 242
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media

Book cover

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