Perfect DaysPerfect Days by Raphael Montes
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

He felt bad: it was the first time he had thought of himself as a villain. By stuffing Clarice in a suitcase and bringing her home, had he become a criminal?

this is a play on the abduction thriller which morphs into a View Spoiler », and it features teo, one of those “he puts the anti- in antihero” narrators who is somewhere on the spectrum, or who at the very least knew how to keep his feelings separate, which transforms his kidnapping of clarice, a girl he will make love him back one way or another, into high comedy through the magic of flat-affect and skewed perspective.


i don’t love this one as much as other people do.

i just never warmed to the character. obviously, there’s a stiffness and a remove to his tone on account of his limited emotional range, but even apart from his character, there’s a pronounced tendency towards stylized prose that makes the book read more posed than dynamic, and i’ve never been a fan of stilted, overfussed prose.

She opened her eyes and glared at him. “Do you really think you love me?”


“What you feel is infatuation. It’s an illness, an obsession. It’s anything but love.”

“I don’t believe in the taxonomical classification of emotions, Clarice.”

She shook her head and retreated back into silence.

and maybe the translation has something to do with it; maybe it’s better in the original portuguese and yadda yadda, but it’s just so frequently flat and dead on the page:

He rested against the railing in the prow, thinking about many things and the consequences of those things.

feel free to make this sentence more interesting, mad libs-style:

(man’s name) rested against the (noun) in the (noun), (verb/ing) about many (plural noun) and the (plural noun) of those (plural noun).

i acknowledge that this is funnier than most books in which a woman is kidnapped, drugged, stuffed into a suitcase, and then wooed with an engagement ring, due to teo’s propensity for understatement and misplaced social cues:

“Liar! All you’ve done is lie from the start!” she said, hunched over in the armchair. Her head was between her knees, bobbing up and down with her sobs. Her spinal vertebrae moved under her skin like a snake. Clarice had lost around nine pounds over the last few days. She was skeletal but still beautiful. If he could paint, he’d have painted a portrait of that moment. He considered going to get his camera but thought it might be offensive.

his inability to read a situation properly:

Suddenly, Clarice jumped on Teo. She scratched him and tried to bite him. She hit him in the face with the pillow. Teo held her wrists and managed to handcuff her. He was most annoyed at her actions. She was proving to be quite uncouth.

or to perceive reality:

Teo tried to give her space. He knew she wouldn’t hold out for long. Couples always made up.

his poor grasp of the nuances of love and sex and women:

Slowly, Clarice was opening up to him; she liked him. It was natural – she didn’t have anyone else. He nourished her, gave her love and attention. The least he could expect in return was a subtle form of affection, which would soon grow stronger – he was certain. At the end of the day, even hippie feminists succumbed to real men. Good sex was an exchange. Before having sex with Clarice (something he had imagined was unpleasant for any woman), he had gone to the trouble to satisfy her.

and his norman bates-caliber mommy issues.

there’s an additional nod to Psycho, in that teo’s most meaningful (and thankfully nonsexual) relationship up to this point was with a corpse; his medical cadaver gertrude. but teo is most assuredly not a psycho himself.

we know because he tells us so.

He didn’t want to come across as sick or a psycho. With time, he’d prove to Clarice that she was wrong. He was incapable of abusing her: he lacked the animal instinct that men received at birth. This was just one of his qualities. If there were more people like him, the world would be a better place.

okay, he’s maybe a little self-delusional, but definitely not a psycho!

He placed Clarice back in the larger suitcase. It was amazing how flexible she was and how she folded up so easily, like a little travel toothbrush.

hmm. well.

The insults kept coming. The sweet, hoarse voice was the same, the gestures too, but she was another woman. That wasn’t his Clarice.

He took another step forward, needing to shut her up. He picked up the book and slammed it down violently on her head. Clarice against Clarice. He hit her a few more times until she was quiet.

goodness, that’s no way to treat a clarice lispector book! or someone named clarice. or, you know, anyone.

besides Psycho, there are also shoutouts, either implicit or explicit to The Collector, Misery, The Silence of the Lambs, and the frequently-mentioned Lolita, although rest assured – the girl in this book has reached the age of consent. even though she doesn’t. consent.

it does, however, mirror Lolita‘s dirty-boy road trip as well as the shifting of the power dynamic between the two and it’s ultimately much more disturbing than Lolita. and yet somehow also less interesting.

having said that, i will confess that my jaw did – literally – drop once, and i was like

but apart from that, there isn’t anything that’s going to lodge permanently in this high-tolerance-for-depravity brain of mine.

it’s not unendurable or even unenjoyable, but it’s not my preferred style of writing, which pretty much casts a pall over the entire book.

but i’m in the minority on this one, so have at it.

read my reviews on goodreads

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