The Former Death of Lieutenant Aloof
La previa muerte del lugarteniente Aloof
This is a novel of adventures, an accessible story that the reader will enjoy from the first page to the last. However, it is also a meditation on adventures, an extended reflection that becomes part of the adventure that fuels the story. But this story introduces us to an unusual kind of adventurer: an adventurer who reflects upon his adventures and tries to understand why he does what he does, why he ventures into his adventures. Our nameless protagonist, who responds to the nickname Aloof¹, finds that when he begins to question the reason for his adventures, he ends up questioning his own identity. But Aloof¹s identity remains opaque, both for himself and for the narrator, who years later has found Aloof¹s manuscript which tells the story of his adventures.
The plot of this novel, then, is part adventure and part philosophical treatise, thanks to the reflections of the narrator who comments upon the action and on the thoughts of the other protagonist of the novel: Lord Redkins, another thoughtful adventurer who realises that the significance of having adventures, does not go much beyond carrying them out.This dialogue between the text left to us by Lieutenant Aloof and the narrator, an academic sniper, is a surprising, magnificent, fascinating discovery. With this novel, Álvaro Pombo once again shows himself to be one of the best Spanish writers of our time.
"These two parallel tales are full of entertainment and humour, containing an easy irony which helps each one to stand alone. This apparent simplicity, however, hides a core made up of questions that reach the limits of philosophical reflections... This book requires the reader to join in the game that Pombo proposes; someone ready to enjoy this version of Pombo which is playful, fun, clever, profound, complex, subtle and sometimes frivolous". Santos Sanz Villanueva, El Mundo
Álvaro Pombo was born in Santander in 1939 and curren-tly lives in Madrid. He has a B.A. from the University of Madrid, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Birkbeck College (London). He has been awarded the Herralde Novel Prize (1983) for El héroe de las Mansardas de Mansard, the Critics' Prize (1991) for El metro de platino iridiado, and both, the Ciudad de Barcelona Prize and the National Literature Prize (1997) for Donde las mujeres, for which he was also shortlisted in the Aristeion Prize. With La cuadratura del círculo he was awarded the Fastenrath Prize (2001) by the Royal Academy of Language. El cielo raso was awarded The Lara Fundation Prize (2002), granted by eleven major publishers to the best published novel of the year. Also, in 2002 he was appointed to the Royal Academy of Spanish Language. For Contra natura has been awarded the Ciudad de Barcelona and the Salambó Prizes.