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A dozen unforgettable stories by “one of the most original writers at work today” (Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Book Review). Slippery figures in anomalous situations ― ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals ― haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange and special secrets, and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his A dozen unforgettable stories by “one of the most original writers at work today” (Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Book Review). Slippery figures in anomalous situations ― ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals ― haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange and special secrets, and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his much younger lover endlessly videotapes her every move, and then confides his surprising plans for her; in another a ghost can’t stop resigning from his job. Masterfully, Marías manages in a small space to perplex and delight. “The short story fits Marías like a glove,” as Le Point noted. His stories have been hailed as “formidably intelligent” (The London Review of Books), “a bracing tonic” (Chicago Tribune), and “startling” (The New York Times Book Review), "the most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature" (The Boston Globe).


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A dozen unforgettable stories by “one of the most original writers at work today” (Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Book Review). Slippery figures in anomalous situations ― ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals ― haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange and special secrets, and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his A dozen unforgettable stories by “one of the most original writers at work today” (Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Book Review). Slippery figures in anomalous situations ― ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals ― haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange and special secrets, and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his much younger lover endlessly videotapes her every move, and then confides his surprising plans for her; in another a ghost can’t stop resigning from his job. Masterfully, Marías manages in a small space to perplex and delight. “The short story fits Marías like a glove,” as Le Point noted. His stories have been hailed as “formidably intelligent” (The London Review of Books), “a bracing tonic” (Chicago Tribune), and “startling” (The New York Times Book Review), "the most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature" (The Boston Globe).

30 review for While the Women Are Sleeping

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike Puma

    A strange, if uneven, collection of short stories, probably best serving the interests of the Marías aficionado. This is not the volume I’d recommend to someone new to the author; I’m reluctant to recommend it to anyone who is familiar with the author. Some creepy mofos inhabit the mind of Señor Marías. While the Women Are Sleeping—an island vacation reveals the difference between love and adoration; immobilization by prescience; a variation on a Lolita-esque theme. Gualta—when a man meets his p A strange, if uneven, collection of short stories, probably best serving the interests of the Marías aficionado. This is not the volume I’d recommend to someone new to the author; I’m reluctant to recommend it to anyone who is familiar with the author. Some creepy mofos inhabit the mind of Señor Marías. While the Women Are Sleeping—an island vacation reveals the difference between love and adoration; immobilization by prescience; a variation on a Lolita-esque theme. Gualta—when a man meets his physical and behavioral doppelganger, he does everything he can think of to distance himself from his own biography. One Night of Love—a husband in a passionless marriage reads love letters from his father’s mistress before he starts receiving letters from her himself. Fraught with possibilities: who is the mistress? who is his wife? what’s in the final letter? is there correspondence from the grave? Open-ended and satisfyingly complete.Lord Rendall’s Song—a returning prisoner of war decides to surprise his wife by arriving unannounced after watching her through the windows of their home. This story seems incomplete, something missing or wrong. It lends itself to what other reviewers have considered the uneven nature of the stories. Rather than blame the JM, instead I rather wish I’d skipped this story. When the chips are down, I choose to be Switzerland.An Epigram of Fealty—the manager of a used book store confronts a mendicant outside the shop who claims to be John Gawsworth, Juan I of Redonda, the previous owner of one of the valuable volumes on display in the window. I’m not certain how well this story works as a story; I am certain that it will be of interest to anyone trying to piece together the strands of the Redondan legend as presented in other JM works. If only toward that end, the story has archival value.A Kind of Nostalgia Perhaps—a young woman grows old reading to an elderly widow and a ghost while fulfilling a prediction made by the widow. A confident story in the mature voice of JM, a story of confident tentativeness. The Resignation Letter of Señor de Santiesteban— an English school teacher spends a year haunted, and insulted, by a ghost whose identity is in question, before exacting his revenge. The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga—the titular narrator briefly describes the day of his death, the life that preceded it, and what his days have been like since. Remarkable in that the story was written when JM was just 14. After reading this rather bleak story, one might wonder if JM’s teachers encouraged his writing or sent a cautionary note home to his parents.Isaac’s Journey— a nameless narrator ponders the fate of the prophesied, cursed, and unborn Isaac Custardoy. Custardoy is the art forger of A Heart So White, and I’m almost certain (as I haven’t yet read AHSW) that the character turns up in another JM title along with the story of his curse; a more dedicated reviewer would pursue this tidbit.What the Butler Said—the narrator spends a half hour trapped in an elevator with a talkative butler who dabbles in black magic. Very cool.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    Suppose someone twisted their back at work. Sure, it hurt but it was the end of the day. Going home, suppose some guy noshed on bread and hummus and watched some of the Arsenal/West Brom match. Discomfort was on the rise. Adjourning to the bedroom, the sad sack aquiesced to the attentions of his Mrs -- Ibuprfin and icy hot topical patches ensued. Cracking the cover of this garish hardcover, escape and relief were foremost on the menu. What followed was a seasonal array of doppelgängers and mirro Suppose someone twisted their back at work. Sure, it hurt but it was the end of the day. Going home, suppose some guy noshed on bread and hummus and watched some of the Arsenal/West Brom match. Discomfort was on the rise. Adjourning to the bedroom, the sad sack aquiesced to the attentions of his Mrs -- Ibuprfin and icy hot topical patches ensued. Cracking the cover of this garish hardcover, escape and relief were foremost on the menu. What followed was a seasonal array of doppelgängers and mirrored existences, almost Borgesian but still mired in the sarortial vortexes of Marias' Madrid. There is alwasy an air of slight and social pugilism at play: perhaps this collection could be noted as Pride and Paradox or, maybe, When to Wear Socks? I do not know. It was read to the end and merciful sleep arrived.

  3. 4 out of 5

    jeremy

    of the ten stories that make up while the women are sleeping, javier marías' second collection to be translated into english, all but one of them were written before he was forty (including "the life and death of marcelino iturriaga," written when he was only fourteen!). published in spanish as mientras ellas duermen, this translation (rendered by the incomparable margaret jull costa) omits four of the stories featured in the original edition. while the women are sleeping contains some strong pi of the ten stories that make up while the women are sleeping, javier marías' second collection to be translated into english, all but one of them were written before he was forty (including "the life and death of marcelino iturriaga," written when he was only fourteen!). published in spanish as mientras ellas duermen, this translation (rendered by the incomparable margaret jull costa) omits four of the stories featured in the original edition. while the women are sleeping contains some strong pieces, yet, as a whole, it is an imperfect and uneven work (as such collections often tend to be). for an already ardent admirer of marías' fiction, however, there is much to applaud. the title story, "the resignation letter of señor de santiesteban" and "an epigram of fealty" (a nod to the legendary kingdom of redonda and its third king john gawsworth, king juan i) are the collection's sharpest pieces. while the women are sleeping will be of greatest interest (and, perhaps, greater enjoyment) to those already familiar with the spaniard's previous books. as most of these stories predate the completion of the accomplished novels that first brought marías international acclaim, they provide a unique glimpse of his earlier forays into writing (requisite reading, of course, for anyone interested in understanding the complete scope of an author's talent). javier marías is often mentioned to be a strong contender for literature's most prestigious award, the much-coveted nobel prize. as a prolific writer still shy of his sixtieth birthday, he certainly has the body of work to justify such an honor. but that won't be my fault: the books we don't read are full of warnings; we will either never read them or they arrive too late.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    In which I learn, definitively, that Marias is a novelist, one of the best alive, and can't write short stories to save his life. The title story is excellent; the very nice, well worked out conceit (man films his out-of-his-league girlfriend constantly, the narrator tries to work out why) lets Marias use the same tricks and skills he uses in his novels. The others feature rather too many doppelgangers and ghosts for my taste and, I assume, for the taste of anyone who made it out of the eighties In which I learn, definitively, that Marias is a novelist, one of the best alive, and can't write short stories to save his life. The title story is excellent; the very nice, well worked out conceit (man films his out-of-his-league girlfriend constantly, the narrator tries to work out why) lets Marias use the same tricks and skills he uses in his novels. The others feature rather too many doppelgangers and ghosts for my taste and, I assume, for the taste of anyone who made it out of the eighties alive, and it isn't clear to me if I mean the pomo 1980s, or the Henry Jamesian 1880s. The point is, the other stories are obviously squibs, and only for Marias completists. Of which I am one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Jones

    At first I was a little annoyed at what appears to be sloppy editing work by New Directions. The first, and most obvious, sign that due care and attention was lacking is the claim on the back that this book contains a dozen stories when in fact it has only ten. Am I being nit-picky? If you can't even get this most basic fact straight then what other errors have you made? I like to see a publisher take pride in their work and the glaring typos I found in the first few stories seemed to confirm th At first I was a little annoyed at what appears to be sloppy editing work by New Directions. The first, and most obvious, sign that due care and attention was lacking is the claim on the back that this book contains a dozen stories when in fact it has only ten. Am I being nit-picky? If you can't even get this most basic fact straight then what other errors have you made? I like to see a publisher take pride in their work and the glaring typos I found in the first few stories seemed to confirm that New Directions did a slightly shoddy job. However the cover art is a great deal better than the usual ghastly black and white covers I'm used to seeing from ND, so I'll give them credit for that. The stories are great. The collection starts and ends with stories that mirror each other - in each the narrator listens while a stranger tells an intimate story. In one case a plan to commit a murder is revealed, in the other only a preparation for an act of revenge - if needed. I love the way the two stories play off of each other; similar in some ways, opposite in others. They illustrate that a well constructed short story collection can become greater than the sum of its parts when the stories are arranged in such a way that the various themes reinforce each other, or contradict each other; when the character in one story raises a particular question that is then raised in another story, but in a completely different manner. Which makes me wonder about the two stories which, I assume, ND decided to leave out of the collection at the last second - at a moment it was too late to change the "dozen" to "ten". Did they simply not fit thematically and stylistically? I chucked when I read a fellow GoodReader's review that said the collection would have been stronger if two stories had been omitted. Perhaps it is! For me, although I have just begun to read the works of Javier Marias, he is an author that occupies ground between Marquez and Keret, yet seems to have a voice uniquely his own. He has a masterful touch and the voice of the common man. I look forward to reading more of his work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tim Lepczyk

    While the Women Are Sleeping is the first work I've read by Javier Marias.  It's a collection of short stories spanning over 30 years of writing.  I tend to think of collections like this as greatest hits album.  A writer's been around for a while, re-releases a bunch of stuff, it takes minimal effort, and generates some interest.  That may not be a fair comparison.  Though written in vastly different times, the stories are linked together by their tone and subject matter.  Whether it's a differ While the Women Are Sleeping is the first work I've read by Javier Marias.  It's a collection of short stories spanning over 30 years of writing.  I tend to think of collections like this as greatest hits album.  A writer's been around for a while, re-releases a bunch of stuff, it takes minimal effort, and generates some interest.  That may not be a fair comparison.  Though written in vastly different times, the stories are linked together by their tone and subject matter.  Whether it's a difference in translation, culture, or age, the stories don't read like contemporary fiction, but more like something written in the late 19th or early 20th century. The title story, "While the Women Are Sleeping" sets a mood similar to Poe or Hitchcock.  The narrator and his wife have been watching a couple at the beach while on vacation.  The man whom they observe is obese and much older, he also constantly films his young, attractive girlfriend.  Through a change in setting, the narrator meets the older man and asks him about his activities.  The older man replies that he adores the woman, and wants to capture the last days of her life.  Is she ill, the narrator asks?  No, is the answer.  From there a conversation ensues about love, life, and death.  The story is slow to develop, but high in tension and discomfort. "A Kind of Nostalgia Perhaps" also visits the ideas of life and death.  In this story a ghost haunts an old woman, but only the young woman who reads to her can see the ghost.  The young woman falls in love with the ghost, who never speaks to her, and develops a relationship of sorts.  The story asks the reader to question time.  How do we perceive the passage of time?  How do we remember events?  Who is haunting whom?  It's a beautiful and sad critique on growing old and finding love. A story that differs somewhat is "Gualta," in which a young, charming, highly successful man encounters a colleague in the same corporation who is exactly the same as the narrator.  The encounter leads him to a realization that he hates himself.  The narrator tries to revise his personality and makes an effort to become coarser.  Unexpectedly, the other man has suffered from the same identity crisis.  Strong for the most part, the story concludes with an ending low on satisfaction as it loses momentum and direction. Overall, the stories are entertaining and work well as a collection; however, in terms of being great stories they fall short.  Some of the stories like, "An Epigram of Fealty," and "Issac's Journey" seem concept driven with little impact.  While stories like "The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga" develop slow enough that the writing seems to value style over accessibility.  The best story out of the collection is "While the Women Are Sleeping" and you can read it online through the New Yorker.  Though the other stories may not hit all the points to be classified as great short stories, they are full of creativity and worth reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zuberino

    They say that Javier Marias is going to win the Nobel Prize one of these days. If that is true, it will have to be on the strength of his other books, because this particular collection of short stories does not really stack up. It spans three decades of the writer's career and reveals what is evidently a very long-standing fascination with the spooky and the supernatural. Doppelgangers and unquiet ghosts abound; they are present even in what the writer informs us was his very first short story They say that Javier Marias is going to win the Nobel Prize one of these days. If that is true, it will have to be on the strength of his other books, because this particular collection of short stories does not really stack up. It spans three decades of the writer's career and reveals what is evidently a very long-standing fascination with the spooky and the supernatural. Doppelgangers and unquiet ghosts abound; they are present even in what the writer informs us was his very first short story ("Marcelino Iturriaga"), written at the ripe old age of fourteen and narrated from beyond the grave. The best of the lot is the title story which is also the longest and therefore allows full play to Marias' peculiar variety of expansive complexity. (Gotta love those rolling, uncoiling sentences...) The story recounts an older man's meticulous, murderous obsession over his much younger lover, masquerading naturally as attentive loving devotion. Other stories that stood out for me were "The Resignation Letter of Senor de Santiesteban" and "What the Butler Said", whereas stories like "Lord Rendall's Song" and "An Epigram of Fealty" felt schematic, almost formulaic in their execution. Time to move on, then, to his longer work and see what the fuss is all about.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deanne

    Some disturbing, some spooky short stories. However not my favourite Marias, it still gave me a chance to see what this writer is capable of.

  9. 4 out of 5

    George

    3.5 stars. I enjoyed the ten, quirky, strange, intriguing, uneven range of short stories. Readers new to Marias should begin with the very good, masterful, 'A Heart of White'. These stories were written between the period 1968 to 1989. I particularly liked the following stories: 'While the Women Are Sleeping' - during an island holiday the narrator, accompanied by his wife, notice a man of 50 years of age videoing a young woman, aged 18, whom the man obviously adores. One sleepless night the narr 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the ten, quirky, strange, intriguing, uneven range of short stories. Readers new to Marias should begin with the very good, masterful, 'A Heart of White'. These stories were written between the period 1968 to 1989. I particularly liked the following stories: 'While the Women Are Sleeping' - during an island holiday the narrator, accompanied by his wife, notice a man of 50 years of age videoing a young woman, aged 18, whom the man obviously adores. One sleepless night the narrator has an interesting private conversation with the 50 year old man. 'One Night of Love' - a husband reads a mistresses love letters to his now dead father. The mistress begins writing to the husband. 'An Epigram of Fealty' - the manager of a second hand book store with rare books in the front display window confronts a poor man who claims to be the previous owner of one of the valuable books in the display window. 'What the Butler Said' - the narrator is stuck in an elevator for half an hour with a butler of a rich woman. The butler tells the narrator about why he is learning black magic. He seeks revenge against the rich woman. An entertaining, worthwhile read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    তানজীম Rahman)

    This is my first encounter with Marias' work, and I'm suitably impressed. His short stories have a quality that I always look for but rarely find: they feel like fables or fairy tales set in modern times. In this collection of stories, Marias takes us on a tour of memory, history, personal identity and the dreamlike nature of reality. He does this using the imagery of the long dead ghost of a rebel, an unexpected twin and many other almost-magical devices. I really didn't like the titular story This is my first encounter with Marias' work, and I'm suitably impressed. His short stories have a quality that I always look for but rarely find: they feel like fables or fairy tales set in modern times. In this collection of stories, Marias takes us on a tour of memory, history, personal identity and the dreamlike nature of reality. He does this using the imagery of the long dead ghost of a rebel, an unexpected twin and many other almost-magical devices. I really didn't like the titular story though.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Mirroring, ghosts, and doubles are present in these haunting short stories by Spanish author Javier Marías. His narrators are usually male and experiencing some kind of identity crisis. I came to this author looking for works translated by Margaret Jull Costa whose translations always seem to read smoothly to me. A list of her translation is avilable at online'>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margare... All Marías' works are translated by her. These are the first of Marías' work that I have read. While Mirroring, ghosts, and doubles are present in these haunting short stories by Spanish author Javier Marías. His narrators are usually male and experiencing some kind of identity crisis. I came to this author looking for works translated by Margaret Jull Costa whose translations always seem to read smoothly to me. A list of her translation is avilable at <"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margare... All Marías' works are translated by her. These are the first of Marías' work that I have read. While the Women are Sleeping In the title story, a man films his beautiful young girlfriend every day on the beach, while she preens herself in a mirror; Gualta This story is available in English translation online What would you do if you met your double, not just in looks but in actions, disposition, character? Javier Santín meets Xavier de Gualta, his double, at a company business meeting. He experiences himself as object for the first time and hates himself. He begins to consciously change his appearance and behaviour to differentiate himself. Finding his doppelganger has done the same, what ensues is a tit-for-tat series of changes. Where will it end? Who will give up? One nigt of Love Lord Rendall's Song An Epigram of Fealty A Kind of Nostalgia Perhaps in "A Kind of Nostalgia Perhaps", an old woman waits for the ghost of a national hero. " The Resignation Letter pf Señor de Santiesteban The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturruaga He asks for the reader's kindness towards "The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga" as it was written when he was 14 – but this is disingenuous on his part as it is a wonderful short story about a man talking after his death. Isaac's Juorney What the Butler Said

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joshunda Sanders

    The writing is beautiful and haunting. This is a collection of his stories that had been previously published, though. So, while it's not new writing, it was new to me, and I dug it. It was sort of dark, lots of death and ghosts. But it's been a long time since I read a good ghost story and there's a great one in this collection that I adored.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Creepy short story. Reminded me of The Comfort of Strangers in a way. Creepy short story. Reminded me of The Comfort of Strangers in a way.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shankar

    The author's dark side keeps showing up all through the stories in this volume. Not recommended as a first in his series but a wonderful set of curious events put together as stories as is the author's wont.

  15. 4 out of 5

    MB Taylor

    I finished reading While the Women Are Sleeping on the bus ride home tonight. It’s a quick read at only 129 pages (+2 pages of introduction). There are two longish stories, “While the Women Are Sleeping” at 30 pages and “The Resignation Letter of Señor de Santiesteban” at 26. Most of the rest are 10 pages or less. This is the first work by Marías that I’ve read. My favorites were the three longest, the two mentioned above and the last, “What the Butler Said”; although, “The Epigram of Fealty” wa I finished reading While the Women Are Sleeping on the bus ride home tonight. It’s a quick read at only 129 pages (+2 pages of introduction). There are two longish stories, “While the Women Are Sleeping” at 30 pages and “The Resignation Letter of Señor de Santiesteban” at 26. Most of the rest are 10 pages or less. This is the first work by Marías that I’ve read. My favorites were the three longest, the two mentioned above and the last, “What the Butler Said”; although, “The Epigram of Fealty” was also quite nice. Most of “While the Women Are Sleeping” takes place by a hotel pool one night as two men, strangers, on vacation converse as their female companions lie asleep in their respective rooms. Oddly, “What the Butler Said” is also primarily a conversion between two strangers; this time between two men temporarily trapped in an elevator. In both stories the narrator does most of the listening, the other person is the one with a story to tell. In “While the Women Are Sleeping”, the unnamed narrator has spent the week watching a man obsessively taking videos of his companion at the beach. As his wife sleeps, he stands on the balcony of their hotel room waiting for sleep to find him. Below he sees the man sitting alone at the pool, and goes down and strikes up a conversation. One he probably regrets. In “What the Butler Said” the (again unnamed) narrator is stuck in an elevator with an also unnamed butler. To pass the time and to help relieve the narrator’s anxiety, the butler starts talking about his employer and his employer’s new wife. The story is unusual, but not (for the most part) remarkably so. I’m not sure what makes this story so interesting, but I really enjoyed it. By way of contrast, “The Resignation Letter of Señor de Santiesteban”, is voiced in the third person. The main character, Derek Lilburn, has recently moved to Spain to take a teaching position in, as he later learns, a school that houses a mysterious ghost. He must, of course, unravel the mystery. All in all, a fun read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I feel like I'd heard a lot about Marias, but when I got to the library, this was the only title that seemed familiar. It might be the wrong place to start with Marias, given that it's stories, and I think he's better known for his novels. It's not like I thought this was terrible-- these wry stories of doppelgangers, ghosts, and other magical realist elements felt a little too familiar to me, to be honest. I'd say he's closer to Borges than Marquez, the way he often passes something off as being I feel like I'd heard a lot about Marias, but when I got to the library, this was the only title that seemed familiar. It might be the wrong place to start with Marias, given that it's stories, and I think he's better known for his novels. It's not like I thought this was terrible-- these wry stories of doppelgangers, ghosts, and other magical realist elements felt a little too familiar to me, to be honest. I'd say he's closer to Borges than Marquez, the way he often passes something off as being scholarship or a recovered text, the way he has a certain Anglophilia, two traits I don't associate with Marquez. The stories were good, kind of discursive in ways that made me think I knew Spanish, or at least contemporary Spanish lit better, to know if this was something distinct about him or merely part of a tradition I, in the lean world of MFA workshops, I'm uneasy adopting. I'll try Marias again, a novel next time.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Javier Marias is not primarily known as a writer of gothic fiction. This slender collection brings together a number of “dark tales” which he wrote over the past decades, including a number of fine ghost stories. Marias is a noted Anglophile and he tends to avoid shock and horror in favour of an elegant and understated style of narration more typical of the English ghost story tradition. The fear which haunts many of the (male) protagonists is a very “human” sense of insecurity, especially in th Javier Marias is not primarily known as a writer of gothic fiction. This slender collection brings together a number of “dark tales” which he wrote over the past decades, including a number of fine ghost stories. Marias is a noted Anglophile and he tends to avoid shock and horror in favour of an elegant and understated style of narration more typical of the English ghost story tradition. The fear which haunts many of the (male) protagonists is a very “human” sense of insecurity, especially in their relationship with women – tellingly, the narrators of two of the stories face an identity crisis after they meet their doppelgänger. In this light, the title of the book assumes a metaphorical significance. An interesting modern take on an established genre.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dave Holcomb

    An excellent collection of short stories. This book was a pleasant surprise for me, as I made it only a few pages into the first volume of Javier Marias' "Your Face Tomorrow" trilogy before I bogged down in the 300-word sentences and the Clarice Lispectoresque internal monologues. These short stories, on the other hand, are generally crisp and thoughtful, centering on universal themes of love, obsession, magic, and the blurring of the lines between the daylight world and the twilight of mind and An excellent collection of short stories. This book was a pleasant surprise for me, as I made it only a few pages into the first volume of Javier Marias' "Your Face Tomorrow" trilogy before I bogged down in the 300-word sentences and the Clarice Lispectoresque internal monologues. These short stories, on the other hand, are generally crisp and thoughtful, centering on universal themes of love, obsession, magic, and the blurring of the lines between the daylight world and the twilight of mind and soul. There is a distinctly Latin feel to the works (especially since most of the settings are in Spain) but many of the stories could just as easily be set in New York or Boston or Washington DC.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jafar

    I was curious to see how a writer who can spend 50 pages on describing something that takes only five minutes does short stories. Pretty good, I have to say, given how generally disappointed I get with short stories. The writing is beautiful, and Marías's brilliance shines through in some of the stories. My favorite was the story about a man who meets another man who looks just like him in every respect, and he despises him so much that he decides to change himself; and the other man is doing th I was curious to see how a writer who can spend 50 pages on describing something that takes only five minutes does short stories. Pretty good, I have to say, given how generally disappointed I get with short stories. The writing is beautiful, and Marías's brilliance shines through in some of the stories. My favorite was the story about a man who meets another man who looks just like him in every respect, and he despises him so much that he decides to change himself; and the other man is doing the same too. There's a ghost story in the book that is the best ghost story that I've ever read — not that I've read many ghost stories.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Stevenson

    This collection of ten short stories ranges from the earliest works of Javier Marias to stories that are very modern in their outlook. Each one of the stories in While the women are sleeping takes a macabre look at an incredibly wide range of subjects. From ghosts to lookalikes, Marias had me wanting more and in the end I was truly disappointed to reach the end of the collection. His work translates brilliantly to the English language and his stories are utterly relatable wherever you’re from.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    This is a collection of short stories by a Spanish author often compared to Carlos Ruiz Zafón, whose works I have greatly enjoyed. Interesting fact is that one of the stories was written when the author was only 14 years old. They have the same Gothic, dark and mysterious elements so prevalent in Zafon's works. Several deal with death, ghosts and and dark magic. Interesting, but not overly impressive. One of the author's more recent novels is on my to-read list.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Colin N.

    Entertaining gothic stories interspersed here and there with typical interesting Mariasian thoughts on language and identity. Lacking perhaps in the more profound blend of ideas and drama that he perfected in his later works (the stories here mostly date from early in his career) they are nevertheless entertaining, fun, and quick to read. So good, if a bit fluffy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Arlo

    Worth reading. Two of the stories are long-the rest brief. One of the longer stories appeared in electric literature #3, which I read recently. If you like stories with endings in which the endings aren't necessarily on the paper you'll enjoy these. He wrote these over several decades. Props to the Botero looking image on the cover..

  24. 5 out of 5

    Saelan

    Early stories and minor tales, slight but sophisticated, some Borgesian plots about doubles, rare books, mistaken identities, and benign ghosts. Death and the erotic feature in almost all of these stories, but only in a detached and highly mediated fashion -- sex, killing, and dying are never described firsthand, only reported or alluded to. Very genteel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Russell George

    These were great, and I’m definitely going to seek out one of his novels. Trouble is, I finished this a few weeks back and can’t remember more than just feeling pleased that I found it, and relieved that, as short-stories, each one was small and almost perfectly formed. As short stories should be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I’ve been wanting to read something by Marías for ages, but judging by the reviews on Goodreads for this collection, it’s not the one to choose as a first look at his work, and maybe that’s why I had trouble fully connecting with it. However, I did like the creepiness of the stories, whether it was due to a paranormal element or simply the weirdness of human nature.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This is a dark collection of Marias' stories written over the last 30 years. The title story is the best. ANother story reminds us of WIlliam WIlson, an Edgar Allan Poe story about a double. We are reading this for book club.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Eh. Love this writer, but this isn't his best stuff -- it's a collection of old stories (which I didn't realize when I bought it) that he wrote back in the 80s / 90s, which just felt a little dated in their bag of tricks.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    A really wonderful compilation of short stories. Each is more intriguing than the next, but the first one is the one that really got me. The translation is excellent, by the way. If you like short stories, you'll love this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    The first story in this collection was stellar; the others didn't quite live up to the promise of the first. Marias is a first-rate novelist, though. Perhaps short stories just aren't so much his form.

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