miércoles, 5 de octubre de 2016


Naïvely enough, I thought that bringing my Wordsworth copy of Tender is the Night & The Last Tycoon with me to my 3-week trip to Indonesia would make the perfect companion for the long airport waits and boat's from-dive-to-next-dive breaks. However, and as I should have realized long before starting the trip, my English is not up to the task of confronting Fitzgerald's writing. After several failed attempts to comprehend Rosemary's dilemmas, I ended up buying Nod in your typical airport book store. If only I had bought it at the beginning of the trip and not a couple of days before heading back to Spain. Funnily enough though, I started reading a book about insomnia just before boarding into a nocturnal jet lag-producer flight where literally everybody in the plane slept but the pilot and me.

Paul watches the whole world disintegrate before his eyes while an insomnia pandemic annihilates all civilization. He is one of the few Sleepers left and thus, one of the few rational observers left to document the end of the world. It only takes around 30 days of sleep deprivation to prematurely die but things start to get pretty ugly way before arriving to that point, facing an accelerated decay including psychosis, aggressiveness and loss of humanity. The Awakened won't stop until the very last of the Sleepers is dead, no matter if most of them are innocent defenseless children.

The idea of what would happen if, suddenly, no warning at all, people became absolutely incapable of sleep felt, as stated in the back cover of my edition, so original. It is a new way to depict an apocalyptic/dystopic scenario where our current society is taken as the starting point (which is not so easy to find in fiction, usually beginning from futuristic settings/parallel worlds). However, before you realize it, the story is not so original anymore and you find yourself reading a zombie book where zombie-like beings, the Awakened, chase the non-zombie-like survivors, the Sleepers.

As an asocial writer interested in etimology, Paul will offer you with endless reflections about humanity, language, society, philosophy, feelings, individual achievement and, primarily, love. As interesting these may be, I would say the few conversations he is able to maintain with Tanya before she is completely gone are more interesting than the monologues he has with himself, echoing the same arguments over and over. The first time he ruminates about how society works, you actually enjoy reading it, but the issue rapidly grows tiresome.

The book is structured as a diary, written by Paul, starting after the first night of worldwide sleeplessness. Actually, the author decided to move forward to the eighteenth day so the first thing we read is the crazy mayhem where Paul is living, not really understanding any of his references to the lollipop yellow, the Admiral of the BlueDemon Park and so on. It was funny to re-read this "first" chapter once I arrived to the 17th day, it all suddenly made sense. The good thing about the messy chronicle is that, although it is full of spoilers, you can't really remember all that incomprehensible data so it does not spoil the book. However, the first-person narrative from the point of view of an introspective writer who lives in a lethargic and apocalyptic world transmits nothing but apathy and disgust to the reader.

And the book is so full of disgusting excerpts, where the author goes back to capital-letters SEX as a mean to make an impact. I was firstly glad to immerse in the brutal and unusual depiction of sex that is portrayed in the first or second chapter of the book as not only is the woman the one who actively wants (and begs) to fuck but the man who has to do it unwillingly, finding the situation so sad and gross he can't get an erection. But... then, the book goes on, and SEX ends up reappearing in a way more horrid portrayal where a woman is, of course, humiliated and used as an object, only to give rise to an emotion in the male protagonist. Actually, although humans as a whole have kind of lost all that made them humans, the author can't help it but make a clear division between zombie-like men and zombie-like women. When Paul encounters them, he shares his thoughts about how the men may had been lawyers, or businessmen, or just finds the male Awakened doing aggressive tasks as killing children while, with regard to women, he just thinks about how pretty might have they been. Even when he describes Tanya, his romantic partner, he mostly focus on her appearance and maternal instinct (which, by the way, prevail among any other thing when she starts to loose it, even though she has no children of her own).

In another vein, the author leaves so many issues unresolved and unexplained. He doesn't even try to find an explanation to what is happening, which is not necessarily bad: it is better to not specify the concrete cause of some paranormal phenomenon than to made up something nonsensical. The problem, for me, is that he can't stop introducing new shocking facts one after the other without pretending to explain any of them at any point and, at the end, is to much to left unanswered. Why would an Awakened pretend to be a Sleeper, why are there so many children who can still sleep, why are they suddenly mute, why all Sleepers share the same dream, why... It all looked random, arbitrary and ambiguous to me.

Conclusion: do NOT buy in a whim a book you have never heard of before, specially not when you are in the other end of the world

P.S. I know I usually quote some of my favorite fragments of any novel I read in my reviews and, don't be mistaken, there were several quotes I would have liked to share here but I am so disenchanted with the end that I'll skip the pain of going through Nod again just to find them.

1 comentario:

  1. Uff nada más de pensar en el rato que me tiraría yo para escribir toda una entrada así en inglés me da una pereza que no veas