Lejos de Veracruz

A Long Way from Veracruz | Anagrama, 1995; PRH/DeBolsillo, 2011

In the novel Lejos de Veracruz, Vila-Matas proceeds along the original path of his most recent narrative.

In Una casa para siempre (1988) is a novelesque structure that is fragmented thematically. In Suicidios ejemplares (1991), on the other hand, a single theme – suicide – is fragmented structurally.  In Hijos sin hijos (1993) we find a book of stories that is at the same time a novel. And now we have Lejos de Veracruz which, above all else, is a novel.

What is left for us when we are already far from Veracruz, far from the volcano of last year’s passion, and, in short, already far away from life? For the youngest of the three Tenorio brothers, the narrator of this original and fascinating novel, all that is left is literature as a last refuge, as he is in a situation where almost the only thing he can do is write.

Destroyed in life, this young layabout of 27 feels very old and tired, and on seeing that he has nothing better to do and nowhere better to drop down dead, at the end of the world, he sets about remembering and writing the story of his hatred for his family home, and also his failed attempts to be loved in different countries, which are distant from the monotony of repetitive days.

A battered hero of the novel of his own life, the last Tenorio writes, between the daily experience of his unrest and the memory of his descent to hell, a novel that wisely embraces both the figure of the unlucky modern guy and the rumour of an underlying essence that behind so much refuge and literature in the port of Veracruz: that tragic secret, already a tradition, which those who taste great and all embracing novels always end up discovering.