Adolfo Couve's When I Think of My Missing Head was published by Snuggly Books in September 2018.
About Adolfo Couve:
Adolfo Couve (Valparaíso, Chile, 1940 - Cartagena, Chile, 1998) trained to be a painter at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Chile, following this with studies at the Art Students League in New York and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He taught aesthetics and art history at the University of Chile for over thirty years. Already a successful painter, he embarked on a literary career characterized by long periods of silence and the search for perfection. Beginning in 1965, the publication of his first book, he went back and forth from painting to literature. His work includes the novels Alamiro (1965), En los desórdenes de junio (1968), El picadero (1974), La lección de pintura (1979), El pasaje / La copia de yeso (1989), Balneario (1993), La comedia del arte (1995) and Cuarteto de la infancia (1996).
About When I Think of My Missing Head:
Camondo, a painter, wakes up one morning in his studio with his head missing, it having been yanked from his body the night before by Marieta, a model. This is a punishment from the gods, who have already taken away his artistic talent. Now, mysteriously resurrected but not quite intact, Camondo wanders about a seaside town wearing a Franciscan habit stolen from church in an attempt to disguise himself.
Published posthumously, When I Think of My Missing Head, by the Chilean painter and novelist Adolfo Couve, here translated for the first time into English by Jessica Sequeira, is a phantasmagorical literary experiment, an existential puzzle with pieces that fit together by secret logic. With tones that are gothic and surrealist, symbolist and magical, this is a highly original work of terror and fantasia.
REVIEW: WHEN I THINK OF MY MISSING HEAD BY ADOLFO COUVE
Adolfo Couve's When I Think of My Missing Head is a fascinating piece of fiction that has undertones of fantasy, horror, surrealism, symbolism and magical realism. It's a slightly Kafkaesque book that will entertain, intrigue and surprise the reader with its unusual and non-linear story.
I think there's a possibility that this book may not be to everybody's liking due to the author's non-linear and surreal storytelling, but I consider this to be a good thing, because not every book has to please everybody. I was personally captivated by this book and found it refreshingly strange. I think that readers who are like me and enjoy unusual stories that demand concentration from the reader will be fascinated by this book.
It's a bit difficult to classify When I Think of My Missing Head merely under one genre, because it has elements from many genres. In my opinion, the best way to classify this book is to say that it's a unique and experimental combination of literary fiction, speculative fiction and surrealism.
This book consists of three parts: "When I Think of My Missing Head", "Minor Quartet" and "The Road to Santiago". "When I Think of My Missing Head" tells of the headless Camondo and his condition and wanderings. This part is magnificent in its weirdness and has a slightly unsettling edge to it. The second part, "Minor Quartet", consists of a series of fragments that are connected to each other and also to the the first story. In "The Road to Santiago", Camondo is once again the protagonist of the story and makes his way toward Cuncumén.
These three parts are different from each other, but when you read the whole book and think about what you've read you'll notice that they belong together. They're connected by fine threads that flow throughout the parts and unite them.
When I Think of My Missing Head is basically a book about headlessness, which means the absence of a head, but it is also much more than that when you think about its contents. The author approaches headlessness in his own utterly unique way and creates a story that it filled with metaphors, allegories and non-linear storytelling, not to mention phantasmagorical and grotesque details that spice up the story. All of these elements will tease and thrill the reader's mind in a delicious way.
One of the main reasons why this book is good can be contributed to Jessica Sequeira's excellent translation. I was pleased with the translation, because it is of exceptionally good quality. It's great that this book has been made available for English speaking readers, because it's a rewarding reading experience.
Before I finish this review, I want to mention that the afterword by the translator is informative and worth reading, because it sheds light on many things.
If you're looking for something extraordinary to read, please don't hesitate to take a look at Adolfo Couve's When I Think of My Missing Head, because it's genuinely something different. It's one of the best books available for readers who want to read demanding and rewarding stories.