BAD NATURE ("Mala Indole" in Spanish) dates back to 1996 - after "Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me" but before "Dark Back of Time" in Marías's ouevre. It first appeared in English translation in "Granta" in 1999. It has now been issued by New Directions in paperback form as one of a new series, called "Pearls", of brief works of literature. BAD NATURE comes in at 57 pages - more a long story than a novella.
BAD NATURE does not attempt to plumb the mysteries of life. It is on an entirely different plane than "Tomorrow" or "Dark Back of Time". It is sheer entertainment, although highly literate entertainment. In it, the narrator tells of his ten days as part of the Elvis Presley entourage in Mexico for the filming of "Fun in Acapulco", which culminated in a verbal showdown between Elvis and some "mafiosos lavados" in a backstreet cantina in Mexico City, for which the narrator had to serve as the unfortunate translator.
Many of the hallmarks of Marías's writing are present: lengthy, cascading sentences; quirky digressions; improbable scenes and confrontations; and wry humor. Elvis is presented as an affable, accommodating guy, who later allowed himself "to appear on stage tricked out like a circus side show, wearing suits bedecked with copious sequins and fringes, bell bottoms slit up the side, belts as wide as a novice whore's, high-heeled goblin boots, and a short cape - a cape - that made him look more like Super Rat than whatever he was probably trying for, Superman, I would imagine."
This is not essential, even for those who are fans of Javier Marías. But it is enjoyable. If one were familiar with "Fun in Acapulco", it probably would be even more enjoyable. But no one -- not even Javier Marías, or Ursula Andress - could induce me to watch "Fun in Acapulco".