Perfect Days – Raphael Montes

Teo Avelar is a twenty-two-year-old med student whose best friend is a cadaver. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the protagonist of Raphael Montes’s novel Perfect Days, you’re not paying attention.

Teo lives with his paraplegic mother, Patricia, in an apartment in Rio de Janeiro. Life used to be better for them, but that was back when Teo’s father was alive. Then, at a party, Teo meets Clarice. She is the exact opposite of Teo, brash and outgoing. She tells him

I drink a lot, eat everything, and I’ve smoked everything too, but now all I smoke are Vogue menthol girlie cigarettes. I fuck every now and then. I’m studying art history at the university. But I’m not sure if it’s what I want to do. I’m really interested in screenwriting.

Teo is smitten. Well, more than smitten. He’s obsessed and before you can say psychopath, he’s kidnapped Clarice and squirreled her away at a resort run by dwarves (his word and I am not joking.) He manages to keep nosey Nelly’s away by telling them that Clarice is working hard on her screenplay, “Perfect Days”, but he can’t keep people away for ever and when Clarice’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Breno shows up, well, things take a decided turn.

As I have said before, I rarely like translations, but I didn’t find this one irksome at all. Perhaps it’s because the whole thing was just sort of ridiculous. I mean, Teo is clearly delusional and the fact that he manages to hoodwink so many people is sort of unbelievable, but I guess we don’t need this sort of story to be realistic, do we? Was it entertaining? Well, I read it pretty much in one sitting. Did I like any of the characters? No. Teo just wants Clarice to like him, love him, but she’s a shadow person. I was never really invested in her and therefore cared little for her fate. Teo is smart, sure, but sort of one-dimensional. The violence is icky and graphic, but I wondered if it wasn’t perhaps a bit gratuitous in an effort to make up for the novel’s lack of psychological insight.

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