Internationally renowned for his dozens of novels and books of nonfiction, Marías has penned weekly newspaper columns in Spain for the past quarter century. This collection has been curated largely from pieces that had already been translated for publication in the U.S., and it includes just shy of 50 short entries, divided into 5 categories: autobiography, urban anatomies, literary matters, the cinema, and miscellaneous reflections ... In its attention to detail and sophisticated intelligence, this compendium resembles Andrés Neuman’s How to Travel without Seeing, and it may serve as a less politically charged and more progressively minded counterpart to Mario Vargas Llosa’s Sabers and Utopias: Visions of Latin America.
Full of ghosts, memories, absences and lost friends, as luminous as many of these pieces are, they inescapably feel surrounded by darkness, or eternity, or between them, as the title of this collection aptly suggests ... Like Martin Amis, Marias is a voice we need, old school, and aware that those who aspire to be 'original' or 'modern' are the quickest to date. He's happy to expose fools and charlatans and stands outside of what's in vogue.
As a cineaste, he’s decidedly old-school; he worships the Western, adores Ann-Margret, venerates It’s a Wonderful Life and (his favorite) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. He may be the only critic alive who believes the 1970s were 'the worst decade in the history of cinema.' ... A lively collection, on the whole, from a man of the world who is most comfortable on his own turf.