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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Blitz

by
David Trueba


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Blitz



Title: Blitz
Author: David Trueba
Genre: Novel
Written: 2015 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 160 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Blitz - US
Blitz - US (Spanish)
Blitz - UK
Blitz - Canada
Blitz - France
Blitz - Italia
Blitz - España
  • Spanish title: Blitz
  • Translated by John Cullen

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Our Assessment:

B : fine little tale of making and breaking human connections

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
El País . 2/3/2015 Jordi Gracia
Publishers Weekly . 16/5/2016 .


  From the Reviews:
  • "La mejor naturaleza de este libro es ser una estupenda novela corta, y turbadora, como lo es la tensión interior de algunas potentes páginas reflexivas e inteligentes, como lo es la pátina leve, discreta y casi oculta del humor feliz, chistoso y no chistoso, de Trueba." - Jordi Gracia, El País

  • "Trueba’s gentle satire of youthful aimlessness is set against the background of the financial crisis, and his bumbling, self-pitying, but ultimately sympathetic Beto proves a talented guide through a largely predictable world of disappointments, reversals, and occasional joys." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Blitz is narrated by Beto Sanz, a thirty-year old Spanish landscape architect. When the novel opens he and his girlfriend, Marta, are the only ones left of the firm they had founded together with three other fellow graduates when they finished university -- and while disappointed that the firm had shrunk down to just the two of them, everything seemed to be fine:

Working together extended our synchronicity as a couple , and we never quarreled.
       While they perhaps might never quarrel, they seem to have settled into a very settled sort of relationship -- and Beto certainly finds they're not having sex nearly as often as he'd like any longer. Now they're in Munich, participating in a prestigious conference competition -- and things start off badly when Beto gets a text from Marta. It's apparently one meant for someone else, and reveals to Beto that she's dumping him. Indeed, she's getting together with her old boyfriend, abruptly terminating both their personal and professional relationships.
       That's a lot for Beto to digest -- especially as he has something else important on his mind too, presenting his park-concept in this competition. That, surprisingly, doesn't go well either.
       Beto lashes out, feels sorry for himself -- and ultimately finds some companionship from a sixty-three-year-old divorcée with two grown children, Helga. More companionship than either of the expected, perhaps: given his mood, and a lot of alcohol, and the fact that she hasn't been in an intimate relationship for a very long time they wind up letting themselves get caught up in the moment and the situation. It's not quite over the next day -- Beto returns to the conference, and still needs to figure out a way to get home, and she helps arrange things for him -- but the episode could well be over with that.
       Blitz covers almost exactly a year, the conference taking place in January 2015, and the story closing with the end of the year. Divided into chapters, month by month, the January-section covers some three-quarters of the novel, as Beto describes the collapse of his relationship, the conference, and his brief (but busy) time with Helga in Munich in considerable detail.
       His return to Madrid is almost anti-climactic. His firm has collapsed, and he moves out of the apartment he shared with Marta. He gets a somewhat surprising job offer -- entailing a move to Barcelona -- and it's something that keeps him busy. He has a roommate, and colleagues, but he remains unmoored -- as becomes especially clear when he visits Madrid and finds how quickly distance has grown between him and his circle of friends there.
       Beto is adrift, and the novel shifts from the painfully detailed account of the few Munich days to a much looser account, months summed up in just a few pages at a time. There are changes in Beto's life, but the events of Munich still overshadow everything else that he just takes as it comes -- good and bad. He sleeps with a few women, but is almost completely disengaged: one complains about his: "total lack of commitment" and, indeed, it seems he is very much in a holding pattern, still waiting, still trying to figure things out.
       Beto enjoys some surprising professional success -- getting away from landscape design and coming up with an idea that, in various iterations, shows considerable promise. But even near the end of the year, in December, he has to admit: "Marta's shadow kept on hanging over me". Only with the close of the year -- and the beginning of the new -- does he make a very spur-of-the-moment decision: nothing is decided yet, but here too there is potential, in the embrace of something that might offer him more.
       As is to be expected from a dumped and somewhat coddled protagonist -- he is the youngest child in his family, with four much older sisters -- there's a decent amount of whining and self-pity, and Beto isn't always sympathetic ('only' having cheated on Marta three times, for example), but he's self-aware enough that it doesn't become too enervating. Things do go rather easily for him, stretching credulity at times -- as in the idea that the job-offer he gets is from one of his competitor's at the Munich conference -- but the small-time adventures and experiences are appealing enough. (There's also a rather detailed description of Beto and Helga being intimate, much of which is cringe-worthy -- but then what realistic depiction of sex isn't ?)
       All in all it's an appealing enough small-time tale of a young man flailing -- rather harmlessly -- in life and love, and still feeling his way about. There's not a great deal of depth here -- appropriate, perhaps, given that it's relatively superficial Beto that is leading the way -- but the surface is just fine, capably handled and presented, just touching enough without trying for too much.
       A fine, quite nicely turned little read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 26 September 2016

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Links:

Blitz: Reviews: David Trueba: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author and filmmaker David Trueba was born in 1969.

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© 2016 the complete review

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