Saturday, March 26, 2016

Perfect Days - Raphael Montes

Perfect Days: A Novel
Raphael Montes
(translated by Alison Entrekin)
Penguin Press
Crime Fiction

 This is one of those rare novels that utterly defies simple classification.  It is crime fiction; it’s also a road trip; it’s psychological suspense; and it is a very peculiar love story.  The two main characters are Teo and Clarice. Teo is a medical student.  A loner by nature, he lives very much in his own head.  His intellect allows him to sail through classes; caring for his wheelchair-bound mother adds to his sense of voluntary isolation.  Clarice wants to be a screenwriter.  She’s a free spirit, a sort of modern bohemian.  The only thing she takes seriously is her writing.  One afternoon, she spends the time it takes to smoke a cigarette in idle chat with a stranger at a party.

A chance meeting at a barbeque, a few moments of bantering conversation, is all it takes for Teo to fall for Clarice.  For Teo, the singular nature of his attraction to Clarice means that their relationship is destined to be real and lasting and meaningful.  The fact that he knows almost nothing about her is irrelevant.  They’ll get to know each other, spend time together in deep and thoughtful conversation.  He can see it all unfolding in his mind’s eye.  When she tells him she’s just not interested, he snaps and kidnaps her.  While that action was impulsive, the ease with which he formulates plans and conceives of methods to keep her subdued is frightening. 
The rest of the story is their journey, both as individuals and together.  Teo truly believes that all he needs is enough time to show her that he loves her and supports her.  He carefully encourages her with her screenplay, even reading it and giving notes.  The two move across Brazil, following the path of the screenplay characters. The author writes with such assurance, it’s hard to believe this is only his second novel.  Not for the faint of heart or stomach, this novel is deeply disturbing on multiple levels.   
Rating: 7 ½
February 2016
ISBN# 978-1-594-20640-5 (hardcover)


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