When I was a teenager I was fascinated with the fatherhood/patricide storyline in Brothers Karamazov. I should revisit it, honestly, I have very vague recollections right now, but the sticky nightmare of terrible fathers, women deemed hysterical, and sons forever damaged are the things that stuck to me from that book that otherwise seemed filled to the brink with Elder Zosima’s rants. Enter The Storm. A perfect, concise summation of the same sticky nightmare, transplanted from Russia to a hotel on the Colombian shore during a storm.
I know Tomás Gonzalez loves Dostoevsky, but whether it was what inspired him, I don’t know. I’m sure it was somewhere deep in his psyche, and spilled out suddenly. And even though I see the similarities, in no way do I want to say that The Storm is reductive. On the opposite, it’s a great work of depicting fragile masculinity that we so desperately need: tremendously well-written, drenched in seawater, aguardiente and atmospheric pressure induced fever, hard to put down, and devastatingly apt. It sort of follows the idea where characters are secluded in a constrained space and this makes them implode: in this Gonzalez shows absolute mastery of the bottle episode in book form. This is exactly how literature should aspire to be: making the reader see the world while looking at a blister through a keyhole.
The Storm by Tomás González
Translated from Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg
Published by Archipelago Books in 2018