While the Women Are Sleeping, By Javier Marías

The man who hated his double

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The Independent Culture

Mirroring, ghosts, and doubles are all present in these haunting short stories by the celebrated Spanish author Javier Marías.

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. Marías's narrators are usually male and experiencing some kind of identity crisis. In the title story, a man films his beautiful young girlfriend every day on the beach, while she preens herself in a mirror; in "Gualta", a man spots his double and instantly loathes him; in "A Kind of Nostalgia Perhaps", an old woman waits for the ghost of a national hero. Superb.