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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not easy, but worth the effort.
Very much a 'literary' novel, in that it is concerned primarily with style over a fairly minimalistic plot, and one's appreciation of the novel is going to depend entirely on how one feels about the author's distinctive prose style. It's certainly unique (to me, at least). Marias hates full stops: the novel consists almost entirely of extremely over-extended sentences...
Published 22 months ago by Jane Aland

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me
Given this is categorised as a modern classic, I did try hard to get in to the writing style. Despite three or four attempts however, I just couldn't.

I have no experience of Maris' writing beyond this one work. Unfortunately, I found the introspective rambling too loose to be engaging, and the prose itself seemed forced instead of a natural flow of...
Published 10 months ago by southcoastreviewer


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not easy, but worth the effort., 21 Oct 2012
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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Very much a 'literary' novel, in that it is concerned primarily with style over a fairly minimalistic plot, and one's appreciation of the novel is going to depend entirely on how one feels about the author's distinctive prose style. It's certainly unique (to me, at least). Marias hates full stops: the novel consists almost entirely of extremely over-extended sentences that any other sane author would break into three or four. His use of paragraphs is similarly hesitant - a single paragraph can stretch over three or more pages, meaning that one can open the book to be confronted by a double page spread entirely devoid of indentations, just a solid block of text. His style is also long-winded, every action is examined in minute detail, with the characters every inner thought noted in a stream-of-consciousness style. Often, his sentences can suddenly change direction halfway through and, with a 'perhaps' or 'maybe', suddenly offer a completely different point of view, leaving the reader with no single clear statement, but a collection of two or more alternatives to ponder. Reading this novel is a bit like trying to navigate through a fog, or being regaled by a very long-winded drunk. Several times during reading I had the urge to grasp the author by his lapels and shout at him to 'just get on with it!'

However (and it's a big 'however'), if you can mentally adjust yourself to the author's unique style, the quality of the writing does gradually shine through. Marias uses repeated ideas, phrases, sentences and chunks of text, gradually building up to an almost hypnotic effect on the reader, highlighting the power of storytelling, the masks and lies that we tell each other, and the lingering hold of the dead. The climax, in which he neatly mirrors the experiences of the narrator with the windowed husband of the dead wife is also pulled off with aplomb.

This certainly isn't a book for everyone, but if you can put the effort in required of a 'diffult' book, then you should find yourself rewarded.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Compelling, 1 Oct 2012
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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Firstly I feel I should warn anyone deciding to get this book that it may not be what you are expecting, and may subsequently find yourself being bored by this. I must admit that I did enjoy this and found it strangely compelling, it drew me in and held my attention, although as such nothing really happens throughout the story.

Victor, the narrator of this tale goes to spend a night with a married woman, Marta. Marta has been let down to a certain degree and so she has her child still at home with her. Marta complains of feeling ill, and then as they are undressing she dies. What would you do in this situation?

As such this could easily have been a short story, but Marias gives us this longer tale instead. Becoming more of a meditation on death, and how the deceased can still keep a strong hold on us this story becomes slightly surreal and macabre. Victor knows that Marta's husband and family must know that Marta had someone with her in the house when she died, and of course her husband is looking for that person, to know about the decisions he made and why, on that fateful night.

A story that is definitely different we follow Victor as he tries to befriend and come closer to Marta's family, knowing that he could ultimately be found out. Driven by his obsession though Victor seems unable to grasp this, or wishes to be found out. As I have said, this definitely isn't for everyone, although it is easy enough to read, it is more of something slightly strange than main fare. If you are looking for something that is out of the usual though this may be just what you are looking for. By the time I was half way through this I must admit that I had already purchased two other novels by this author for my kindle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, 17 Oct 2013
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southcoastreviewer "perpetual student" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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Given this is categorised as a modern classic, I did try hard to get in to the writing style. Despite three or four attempts however, I just couldn't.

I have no experience of Maris' writing beyond this one work. Unfortunately, I found the introspective rambling too loose to be engaging, and the prose itself seemed forced instead of a natural flow of consciousness. For me, the end result is not worth the effort the reader has to expend forcing their way through each page. One to miss, I'm afraid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long-winded short story really, 21 Jun 2013
By 
HJK (Gomersal UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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I have read so many good reviews about this writer and this book and so was eager to read this. However it did not do anything for me - I found it long-winded and a bit dull - I think it must be me - it just did not appeal.

The story is told through the thoughts of a man who is in the home of a married woman, they are about to start an affair, when she is feels unwell and dies - the man leaves, not wanting to be discovered there.

He does feel guilty and tracks down her family and husband to see how they are coping and what is happening to them.

It is clever in a way in how the story is told but it is much too long for what there is to tell.

Maybe it is a touch mean to give this only 2 stars but ones I give 3 stars and above are those I would recommend and this is just not one of those.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Failed to hold my attention, 23 May 2013
By 
Gareth Smyth "Enjilos" (County Mayo, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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Interesting opening but the book failed to hold my attention. Perhaps this was the slow pace, or more probably that I couldn't identify with the main character whose fascinations with the dead-woman-he-has-just-met-and-slept-with didn't wow me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good quality writing but awful pacing, 24 April 2013
By 
J. R. Atkinson "Jim Bob" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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The writing in the book is of a high quality and I do feel harsh giving it only 2 stars but the pacing in the book is shocking. Long sections repeating each other which drag by followed by brief periods of action which do captivate mean the book feels like it takes forever to get through. I put it away at 250 pages, not able to summon the spirit to put myself through the last 60 pages.

The story is a good one and it is an interesting idea but the execution is not good enough. Ultimately I was left thinking that perhaps it was the translator who was unable to do justice to this work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The what-ifs of life, 28 Mar 2013
By 
Ian Shine (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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This is the first Javier Marias novel I have read, but it certainly won't be the last.
Much like the main female character in the book (and I am giving nothing away here - Marias reveals this in the first sentence), the book's time may end, but the memory of it (however small this may only be - as Marias says, all our memories are only a "tiny fraction of what was said") will live on. This is a haunting book, saddled with the heavier questions of life and death - a ponderous book both in its subject matter and its prose style (paragraphs can go on for five or six pages; sentences can span half a page).
Essentially, the book concerns a man (Victor) who intends to commit adultery, but the woman (Marta) with whom he intends to do so dies unexpectedly as they enter the bedroom. The plot spins out from there, as Victor considers his actions and tries to recompense for them. I won't reveal anything more about the plot, although, this isn't really a book that is about its plot - it is a book about the more profound "what-ifs" of an absent life; the ways we are deceived, or live in ignorance, every day ("the consolations of uncertainty"), and how we would act if we weren't in this state; whether the lives we end up living are premeditated or accidental; whether the plot of our lives we look back on only appears logical through hindsight; and, most overarchingly, the inevitable dissolution of things.
The novel is laced with passages you want to underline and read over and over again. Here are a couple (which also will give a taste of Marias' inimitable prose style):
"So much else goes on behind our backs, our capacity for knowledge is so limited, we cannot se what lies behind a wall or anything happening at a distance, someone only has to whisper or move slightly away from us and we can no longer hear what he or she is saying, and our life might depend on it."
"One has to fill up the insistent time that continues to pass without waiting for us... having to decide without knowing, having to act without knowing and yet foreseeing, and that is the greatest and most common of misfortunes, foreseeing what will come afterwards, it's a misfortune generally perceived as quite a minor one, yet experienced by everyone every day."
In terms of comparing Marias to other writers, I would draw parallels to Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Ernesto Sabato. Fans of those writers will most certainly not be disappointed with Marias.
One final what if: What if I had never read Javier Marias? Well, my reading life would have been significantly poorer. This is a writer you cannot ignore.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An elegant meditation on death and narrative, 26 Mar 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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Like much postmodern literary fiction, this is as, perhaps more, concerned with narrative and the power of storytelling than anything else. Marias' prose is elegant, cool, precise, sometimes profound, sometimes mundane, often lit with a dark and mordant sense of humour.

If you want a `plot', then this probably isn't for you. Taking its origins from texts like Joyce's Ulysses or Proust, this is a book which exists, almost completely, in the minds of its narrators. There is a story here, but that isn't really the point of the book: meditations on death, on life, on responsibility, all circle around the idea of stories: what we tell other people, what we tell ourselves in order to be able to carry on living - truthful, deceitful, lying and all powerful.

For me, this is an interesting read rather than a compelling or engrossing one: read it for the texture of the prose, the intelligence of the text, and the dark vigour and energy.
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1.0 out of 5 stars This must be a book which divides opinion., 16 Jun 2014
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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While I have read positively glowing reviews of this book I have to say that I found it a trying and unrewarding read at best, consequently I would not have choosen it for a modern classics range at all.

The narrative is not paced well and does not really flow, so instead of a stream of consciousness or reflective first person piece the reader is confronted with a protracted introspective ramble. The effort to finish is just too taxing to be worthwhile, I tried a number of times to read on and read on in the hope that perhaps it was a book which was slow to get started or which had excellent points or passages among an otherwise dull storyline.

I have no idea whether this is a book which is poor in comparison to this author's other works because I am not familiar with them but given the premise, the central character's second thoughts about failing to alert anyone or call for help when his muse dies, I expected more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, even in translation., 24 April 2014
This review is from: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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Marias, like many other Hispanic writers, is very different in the original. Nevertheless, this is a great novel impressively translated by Margaret Jull Costa.

It comes from a writer and a culture and a time where the past is compromised and has to be approached obliquely. Instead of tackling the past and the present head on, Marias writes about the dead and the living, something both very public and very intimate in Spain until the 80s.

True, the writing may seem daunting at times but, compared to the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Autumn of the Patriarch", it' a doddle!
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Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics)
Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Penguin Modern Classics) by Javier Marķas (Paperback - 2 Aug 2012)
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