We gradually learn of his wife. She would go the cinema every day and he would accompany her a couple of times a week, enjoying various foreign films. She likes classical music and is very knowledgeable about it and collects CDs, which he listens to as well. In short, they seem to have a fairly happy, conventional marriage. However, now that she is dead, he seems to have difficulty in coping. We learn about his life in Morocco but also about his past. He grew up on a farm and likens it to Tolstoy's farm at Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy has been a big influence on him and, indeed, it was reading Tolstoy that made him interested in literature. He visited Russia with his wife to visit Yasnaya Polyana and we learn about both his trip and Tolstoy's final days. He also visited Chechnya on his own with a copy of Tolstoy's Hadji Murat and this had a profound effect on him.
There are two other key factors he mentions. The first is the Moroccan landscape, where he lives. At the end he will, in his mind, take a trip in a collective taxi out to the desert and asked to be left there, even though warned by the driver that he has just missed the last bus and that there will be no other transport passing by till the next day. The other one is a rather odd chapter in which he conducts a dialogue with himself, the one voice being a Godlike personage and the other the man himself, with the Godlike creature criticising him for his wanton ways and reflecting on the wicked ways of mankind. However, as the book of a man approaching death, left without his wife, who remains vague but still a presence throughout the book, a man who is trying to find out not only where he has been in the world but where exactly he is now, it works well and is an interesting addition to Goytisolo's work.
First published in Spanish 2003 by Aleph
First published in English by Serpent's Tail in 2005