I am a big fan of Latin American writers, especially G.G. Marquez and Julio Cortazar, but I have to admit to the fact that Adolfo Bioy Casares exerts a special influence on me. He lived his life under the shadow of Borges’ immense genius and was often overshadowed by the brilliant prose of a writer who can, with ease, be considered as the best writer never to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
But Casares, even though not as famous as his best friend, and most certainly not as brilliant, managed to grow in a different direction and forge a different style. He did all that, but he managed one more thing, for which I commend him greatly. He wrote this short novel.
Borges wrote about this short novel that it was perfect.
He was right. This novel is perfect. It’s not the best book ever written. No. But it’s perfect in the way Antoine de Saint Exupery defined perfection. There’s nothing to be taken away from the story. Nothing that feels superfluous or irrelevant. And there’s nothing to be added. This story has it all: it makes you experience a variety of emotions; love, hatred, anguish, pain, fear. It has death, it has love, it has jealousy.
The idea behind the story is brilliant, the author maintains suspense in such a phenomenal way, and the twist close to the end of the book is one of the best twists I have ever stumbled upon.
Basically the story goes like this; an unnamed man, a prisoner, flees to an island by boat. But this is no ordinary island. I can’t tell you more, I honestly can’t, because it will ruin the story, but it’s one of the most mysterious and fantastic settings ever imagined. If a setting is strong enough to sustain a story, then the writer deserves a lot of credit for it.
The Invention of Morel has it all; a sad love story, quite unique in the world of literature, a former prisoner as an unreliable narrator, whose train of thoughts wonderfully spirals out of control as he realizes what the island actually is.