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Cuando fui mortal

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  388 ratings  ·  43 reviews
En los cuentos de Cuando fui mortal se halla, como señaló en su día la crítica, “la oportunidad de abrir la puerta para vislumbrar el universo único de uno de los mejores novelistas contemporáneos”. Por aquí se pasea toda una serie de personajes turbadores: un médico español que visita de noche las casas parisinas de mujeres casadas; un guardaespaldas aficionado al hipódro...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Vintage Espanol (first published 1996)
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Mike Puma

Hints at stories. Hints at stories, with a familiar voice—not the familiarity of mere recognition, but the familiarity of intimacy. Those of us who’ve read a lot of Marías will understand, hopefully, that I’m not speaking of the narrator’s voice, but rather the author’s voice, Marías’ voice, a voice that speaks through a broad grin and says, “How lovely to see you again. Have I told you about…?” As the author’s voice becomes more familiar, other aspects of Marías’ style reemerge: his use of rhe

...more
jeremy
when i was mortal collects a dozen of javier marías' short stories. all but one of these were commissioned, some with literary or thematic constraints, for various spanish-language publications in the early 1990s. while i, perhaps foolishly, have yet to read one of marías' novels, i do find his short stories well written and cleverly composed. as one who generally prefers the novel to the short story format, i must imagine his longer works as even more rewarding.

though when i was mortal is witho...more
Jonathan
Aug 02, 2014 Jonathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of early Ian McEwan & Julian Barnes
Recommended to Jonathan by: serendipity at the library
I only picked this book up from the library when the title caught my eye...oh and it was a Penguin Modern Classics as well - but I'd never heard of the author before.

This short collection contains twelve stories ranging from a few pages to about fifty pages. I won't go into detail about each story but I only want to say that I was impressed with them. They reminded me of the early Ian McEwan collections, such as First Love, Last Rites and others. They're all set in modern Spain, or sometimes Par...more
Ben
Addictive short stories about "the normally invisible wall that separates life and death," and the residents on either side. Marias is like Keret with a longer attention span, with the same sense of how to frame dark and light so that the contrast makes the light seem rarer, more fleeting, more worth holding on to.

Written and published separately over a four-year period, these stories have been ordered to comment and build on each other, to imply common real-life or psychological threads. The tr...more
Semnebune
Spuneam recent că printre puţinele cărţi care îmi vor reveni în minte, dintre cele citite anul trecut, se numără şi Când eram muritor, Javier Marías. Nu pentru că ar reprezenta vreun vârf al scrierilor lui, nici pe departe, ci pentru că printre cele 12 proze scurte adunate în acest volum s-au strecurat câteva foarte reuşite. În ansamblu, Când eram muritor scoate în evidenţă faptul că Javier Marías nu este scriitor de proză scurtă. Cel puţin asta e impresia pe care mi-a lăsat-o mie, aceea că stil...more
Ema
În sfârşit, o colecţie de proză scurtă pe care am citit-o cu plăcere și nerăbdare, de la început până la sfârșit. De obicei, scurtimea acestui gen literar nu îmi este suficientă, însă, cu talentul său de a îmbina introspecții subtile cu subiecte interesante, Marías reușește să creeze câteva povești memorabile în Când eram muritor.

M-am bucurat că am citit, în prealabil, alte două romane ale acestui scriitor spaniol, pentru că am regăsit aici personaje, nume, scene și idei care au fost dezvoltate...more
Kristin
I personally did not really enjoy this book. I feel like Javier Marias jumped around a lot and the stories were not relevant to each other. One chapter could be talking about mistaken identity and the next could be about lairs. It just didn't make sense to me and the book wasn't all that interesting either. This book was made up of short stories with different "themes". For example, one of the chapters had a soccer theme. I think that the blurb of the book seemed more interesting than the book i...more
Iris
Oh man, oh god, oh man, oh god - I'm writing a novel.

I imagine that this is the thought that threatens to choke writers. Some authors' novels can seem stilted compared to their wild and free short stories. Shorter pieces offer more room to play and experiment, often bringing authors to their most vivid and original moments.

An exception: the work of Javier Marías, author of this story collection, "When I Was Mortal." Though delightful, these stories are stilted when compared to his wondrous nove...more
Anda
A 12 short-stories collection that revealed me another face of one of my loved writers: Javier Marias. He is here more a columnist than a novelist, trying to adjust his rhythm of storytelling to the penurious length of the newspaper’s columns. Therefore I feel the stories unfinished and brutal twisted. Marias has a seductive style, with a delicate rhythm that harmoniously leads the story from “the waiting” to “the happening”. But in this collection the happening happens either too early or too l...more
Colin N.
"When I Was Mortal" is a collection of short stories Marias wrote for various publications in the early 90s. These stories all involve murder, assassinations, ghosts, suicide, and other such macabre subject matter. The stories are well-written and enjoyable as fun little thriller/mystery/gothic tales. Those looking, however, for the brilliance and insight of Marias's other works will not find it here, as these stories are all rather slight.



That said Marias can turn a good phrase and every once i...more
Joe Cummings
When I was Mortal is Margaret Jull Costa’s 1999 translation of Javier Marias’ 1996 collection of twelve short stories published under the title Cuando fui mortal. Although I’m not much of a fan of short stories, the dozen in this volume were delightful and entertaining. They all strived to be quirky in their own way. Marias is a mature, urbane and talented storyteller. In the author’s preface, he explains that eleven of the stories were a commission pieces and had to be written to meet certain c...more
John
Worth picking up for the gems. I expected to not read a few stories in this collection, but it turns out I finished few of them. Those I did finish were short well-executed character studies. There's little description of the settings that you might expect from a Spanish author and rather too much narrative; not enough action on the whole.
Stephan Van wyk
I suppose if such a short book takes me three months to finish it says a lot - either of the book or of me. One or two of the stories I really enjoyed. The others? Well, I found them very Edgar Allan Poe-ish, albeit quite forcibly so. Maybe it was the longwinded, contorted sentences, which although "beautiful" and "seductive", can become rather irritating for the tired mind of a modern reader who is trying to wind down after a long day's worth of processing information. I am not sure if the writ...more
Lei
The book is composed of different short stories. However, it is confusing because I don't understand until the end, where you usually find out that someone was being killed. You have to make an inference at the end to finally get what the whole story is about. It may sound like fun solving the mystery at the end where all the puzzles come together and make sense, but I did not find the book interesting to read.
The memorable chapter is the same as the title, When I was Mortal. It talks about how...more
K
A good collection of short stories. A few of them are the tiny, beginning skeletons that later became novels of his. Worth picking up if you're in the mood for some small, interesting doses of fiction.
Psychophant
Javier Marias writes exquisitely. And that exquisiteness that at times becomes tiring in his novels, fits perfectly the short tale format. All these tales have in common an intention to disturb the commonplace, to make the reader reflect on the shadows we come across daily, and that at times hide atrocities.

The general quality is high, which is unusual in this kind of compilation, so much that I will only point out the tale that titles the compilation, in that it has the strangest narrator, and...more
Matthew Balliro
Not all of these stories were hits; they had their problems. Most of the narrator were very similar, which I don't believe was intentional (however, there are lots of images and words and phrases that repeat through the course of the collection, which seems both intentional and masterful). Some of the plots also seem to go nowhere.

Marias obviously has a gift for pacing, mood, dialogue, and the aforementioned crafting of a literary world. I'm looking forward to reading more by him, especially the...more
boncybooks
I love the voice of Javier Marias. I could read him everyday over and over and not tire.
Ana
I liked this book, it was interesting. Usually, people think that living forever would be the best thing ever, I know I did, but it sound horrible now. I feel bad for the man because he had to live without his wife. Also, people dont treat him the same because he is the only young person in town. I felt really bad for him at the end because he was lonely. All he wanted to do was get married to a woman and he didn't want to be love tortured anymore, but in the end he because a lonely old man.
Jean
Esta colección de cuentos necesitaba tener un hilo conductor más fuerte y concreto entre los relatos aquí incluidos. Sé que es una compilación de trabajos encomendados, pero al empatar de aquí y allá, no se sentía una fluidez. De todas maneras es una buena lectura. El mejor cuento a mi entender es el que cierra el libro: "No más amores", pues recoge ese sentimiento mortal y fantasmagórico que el escritor quiere transmitir.
Kelly Harrison
great little book of short stories... dark and left me slightly un nerved
Cheryl
So glad to have read more Marias!! This compilation of short fiction was really entertaining. (Love his macabre sensibility!) I appreciated the foreword Marias provided which detailed the literary devices he was asked to employ by editors/publishers for each of the stories.
Jonathan yates
This stuff is amazing, this is outside of the world of literature that i generally tread and it was a suprising treat, i particularly love how all the stories play off of each other and how the mood of the book changes as the stories progress.
also this stuff is real funny!
Ariadna73
"Marias es como un niño pequeño queriendo ser aviador
Bombero, piloto, bailarin, astronauta, policía... jugando a mil cosas y a ninguna; y nosotros disfrutando de sus desvaríos, pues tiene la capacidad de convertir los hechos más banales en pequeñas piezas de arte."
Maria
So far it's a challenging read in Spanish. Completely captivated and engrossed by the "picture within a picture" story telling. Haunting, and really bring to mind the concept that we are all connected, and yet how far apart we can all be in relationships.
Lisa
Few authors master short stories but Marias can create character, place and plot in a remarkably short work. But each one of these 12 stories could be a pitch for a novel. Each is a teaser that left me wanting it to be a full-length novel.
Betina Barrios Ayala
Mis favoritos:
- Cuando fui mortal. Es un cuento ingenioso colmado de reflexiones. Un acercamiento a la muerte muy interesante.
- Menos escrúpulos.
annakatrina
i thought that the expansiveness of marias' writing style needed the length and breadth of the novel to be successful. but this collection of short stories shows that he can be extremely impacting and potent as well as succinct.
Rose Gowen
I'm bailing on this. The first couple of stories are tricksy. There was one decent one, a portrait of a dead friend-- but, I don't want to spend any more time on this. I'll save my Marias-reading energy for one of his novels.
Einschrein
Are we certain Marias is Spanish and not French? His subject matter reminds me of Michel Houellebecq, his style of Borges - so perhaps he is a hybrid. The story in the collection titled "When I Was Mortal" is brilliant!
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71956
Javier Marías was born in Madrid. His father was the philosopher Julián Marías, who was briefly imprisoned and then banned from teaching for opposing Franco. Parts of his childhood were spent in the United States, where his father taught at various institutions, including Yale University and Wellesley College. His mother died when Javier was 26 years old. He was educated at the Colegio Estudio in...more
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