My review of NYRB Classics’ Asleep in the Sun, novel of Adolfo Bioy Casares, is up on The Philippine Online Chronicles. Casares’ slim novel is only my second NYRB read, and it sort of fell on my lap on BookSale spelunking — I think I hurt the guy beside me reaching for this book. Here’s a snippet:
Doppelgängers, body doubles, body snatchers. They’re icing on the cake. It’s Lucio’s perceptions that make the theme-tackling honest. While his wife stayed in the asylum, her jealous and man-hungry sister, Adriana María, moves into the house with her son. What ensues is a rather bewildering seduction — mostly because Lucio is so immune to it due to his absolute love for Diana. But then, but then: One night, missing his wife so much, he comes home, and thinks he sees Diana. But it is only Adriana María — the sisters look so much alike, it’s almost only a difference in hair color, a difference nullified by nighttime. And Lucio thinks this through, so shaken he is by this slight against Diana — how could he mistake anyone for her? Is she just her hair, or even less, the wave of her hair on her shoudlers, and the shape of her body and the way she sits?
I enjoyed the book; it didn’t knock my socks off, but I was very satisfied. It was good, a little surreal, unexpectedly sensitive. And funny, yes. What flaws I found had little to do with the story itself — my biggest gripe was the jacket copy, which threatened to leech all possible enjoyment from the experience. [I elaborate on this over at the review]. It’s a good teaser for Casares’ work — I’m dying to read his The Invention of Morel. Though I doubt that that book will fall onto my lap as easily as this one did. Oh well.