Review of the book “The Wild Part” by Ferran Guallar.
By Paqui Bernal.
When I heard about “The Wild Side” I thought that perhaps it would be more like a naturalistic treatise than a proper narrative. Nothing is further from reality.
To begin with, the beginning contains a great premise and is brutal. I summarize it here because it seems like a good quote to get closer to what the text is: “[Un mono observa a dos hombres… Uno de ellos] “He seems unaware that he is still holding a stone stained with blood… The monkey does not know how to distinguish between the rigid hand of the inert body and the gun he still holds, but he knows that his skull is open in half.”
The narrator, Paul Murray, a very powerful character with a certain weakness for alcohol, continues speaking to a monkey, in an evocative and sometimes ironic way. He refers to a partly dead team, which opens up many unknowns. How did they die? Did someone kill them? And throughout reading we will see that the author is very skilled at awakening our curiosity, with “cliff-hangers”, sowing doubts, through the unresolved sexual tension that occurs between several couples, etc.
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The structure, which includes diary entries from several researchers, is very original, and that also blurs the fine line between fiction and non-fiction, something that is now very fashionable in literature.
The Wild Part is a novel that we keep in our memory while reading because it is very sensory, because it is full of similes and descriptions well integrated into the narrative, and all of this seasoned with poetic prose that is not at all cheesy. On the other hand, the rhythm does not decline throughout the novel, and those of us who write know that this is something very difficult to sustain.
Ferran Guallar builds complex characters – like that strong and at the same time vulnerable protagonist -, well characterized, and shows their relationships – full of understandings – with depth. Although it may sound cliché, the author demonstrates great knowledge of the human soul.
It distributes many interesting reflections between the thoughts of various characters, about the first and third world, about ecology, about human relationships… It presents continuous parallels between the behavior of humans and that of apes. But, above all, Guallar’s voice makes us feel that both decisions and indecision determine our future, and that – which is so true – gives a lot of life to the story.
And, if something was missing, we went through beautiful scenes of communion with nature and friendship, especially male friendship. Truly admirable for a debut feature. Don’t miss it.