The Enormity of the Tragedy

The Enormity of the Tragedy



The Pequod Review:

Quim Monzo’s first novel The Enormity of the Tragedy is in many ways an even greater success than his (excellent) short stories. Ramon-Maria wakes up one morning to discover he has a perpetual erection, a symptom which leads to a diagnosis that he is terminally ill with only weeks to live. His experience of the successive Kubler-Ross stages is tinged with melancholic humor: 

How horrible, so much depression! All told, dying wasn't a particularly dramatic misfortune. He could even steal a march on fate. He could commit suicide and thus end all. But he felt too lethargic to get up, enormously lethargic.


Seven weeks. He felt an emptiness in the pit of his stomach, an emptiness he preferred to think was caused by shock not by distress or fear. He couldn’t altogether believe it was true. It couldn’t be, he thought, now he wasn’t facing the doctor. Because he’d not opened his mouth in front of the doctor. Seven weeks. It seemed impossible. Surely if he did it all again, if he retraced his steps as if he’d never been to the doctor’s, things would be different. He’d do that. He’d walk to the corner of the street, turn around and come back to the building, press the button to the eighth floor, go back to the surgery, ask for Dr Puig-Amer again, be given the inconsequential results of his tests, the doctor would say that one of these days his permanent erection would disappear, everything would go back to normal and he’d once again be a mortal, without an expiry date.

The novel structure works well for Monzo, as it gives him space to develop his characters, and allows the story to build to more depth than you are initially led to expect.