Saturday, October 1, 2016

Review: "Perfect Days" by Raphael Montes

Perfect Days, the first novel to be translated into English by Brazilian author Raphael Montes is something of a milestone for me. It is the first time I have read a book by an author who is younger than me. It is an experience that leaves me feeling old, a little behind, but also hungry and motivated to do more with my life. I just wish that this milestone occurred with a better book. I’m giving this book a rather generous review, since it is exciting just by its premise, which left me intrigued even as it disappointed me again and again, and its weirdness will appeal to some, but I didn’t really like this book. I found it derivative with the amoral landscape it treads being picked over and explored by more interesting and skilled hands. It begins with a rather great first chapter as we enter the interior world of Teo, a medical student with little interest in people or pleasure. The first chapter focuses on his weird obsession with a medical school cadaver, that of an old woman he names Gertrude. He is the only one who isn’t grossed out by it or makes jokes about, and when the class is over, he is genuinely sad knowing he will not see it again. It is a fascinating, rather pitiful look at this man, which makes his newfound obsession, Clarice, an art student, seem very false and unbelievable: he begins to stalk her after offhandedly getting her number. When she discovers this and rejects him, she knocks him out, and by convincing his invalid mother as well as Clarice’s parents that he is her boyfriend, he takes her on a trip she was going to go on, and forces her to write her screenplay she’s been neglecting. I would have forgiven this book if it were going where I thought it was (which I will be mum about), I would have been more forgiving, but since it went the straightforward way, it was hard to forgive this book’s more outlandish elements such as the murders, and what eventually happens to Clarice. This book is a great time killer, perfect for beach reading, but don’t expect it to be “great” great.

Rating: 3/5

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