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Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico - Javier Marías, Esther Allen A fierce, fun read, in which every sentence of its 57 entertaining and literary pages is a rush, starting with:
“No one knows what it is like to be hunted down without having lived it, and unless the chase was active and constant, carried out with deliberation, determination, dedication, and never a break, with perseverance and fanaticism, as if the pursuers had nothing else to do in life but look for you and then, at best, wait for the moment to settle the score.”

However, if you read this you’ll have a good idea what it’s like to be hunted down (without having lived it), talk about living vicariously. Bad Nature is my first Marias, and if it’s any indication he’s a master of the language of the vicarious. Take, for example, the following language about hate:
“Vengeance is extremely wearying and hatred tends to evaporate, it’s a fragile, ephemeral feeling, impermanent, fleeting, so difficult to maintain that it quickly gives way to rancor or resentment which are more bearable, easier to retrieve, much less virulent and somehow less pressing, while hatred is always in a tearing hurry, always urgent: I want him dead, bring me the son of a bitch’s head, I want to see hi m flayed and his body smeared with tar and feathers, a carcass, skinned and butchered, and then he will be no one and this hatred that is exhausting me will end.”

Just reading that was exhausting, but in a good way, by way of evoking the experience. The language itself invigorates and compels and I could not put the book down. And as escapist reading goes, it’s a great premise. A translator and Spanish language adviser to Elvis Presley during the filming of Fun In Acapulco winds up the target of revenge over an insult he, the translator, was merely delivering in Spanish on Elvis’s behalf to a thug in a bar, where he, the translator, is abandoned.

From there the chase is on. The messenger/translator is telling the tale, and reading feels like running with him, and some of what happens is really, really funny in a way that brought to mind Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The end comes down to who kills who, as in who wins the fight when the hunter and hunted come to blows, never mind that, excepting a barroom encounter, they are strangers fighting over nothing more significant than a bruised ego. It’s mind-blowing what even the most ridiculous hatred can do given the chance, and the chance to vicariously experience it through the language of a master like Marias was a thrill.