We all know the story. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl based on no discernible criteria, girl isn’t interested, boy knocks girl out, stuffs her in a suitcase and holds her captive on a deranged road trip.
Teo Alevar lives in Rio de Janiero with his disabled mother and her dog. A med student, his best and only friend is a cadaver named Gertrude. He’s not interested in other people, and doesn’t think he’s capable of love until he meets Clarice. And thus begins a beautiful romance.
Clarice is everything Teo isn’t. Where he’s withdrawn and taciturn, she’s bubbly and friendly. He’s straight-laced, she’s a charming boozer. He falls for her immediately and decides she must feel the same way too. Cue some light stalking. When Clarice figures out what’s going on, she tells him to get lost. Wounded, he does what all of us would do-he knocks her out.
Aware that Clarice was about to leave town to go work on her screenplay, he decides he’ll go along for the ride. Her screenplay was about three girlfriends on a road trip, and Teo decides the lovers will trace the same route as in the script.
Armed with handcuffs, his father’s gun and an assortment of other delightful methods for restraint, Teo shackles Clarice to a desk to complete her script. When she yells at him (bitches always be mad when they get folded into a suitcase amiright?) he sedates her and waits for her to understand that she’s in love with him.
This book came to me highly recommended by multiple people and while I get why they liked it, Perfect Days didn’t do it for me. Despite the absolutely bonkers premise, parts of the book are monotonous and repetitive: Teo thinks Clarice loves him, Clarice tries to escape, she somehow fucks that up and gets caught again, Teo treats us readers to the battlesong of the fedora-wearing shitlords entitled, “But I’m Such a Nice Guy” and punishes her for not loving him. Rinse and Repeat. Teo is clearly supposed to be the kind of anti-hero that you love to hate, but I just hated him. He’s evil and boring.
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.
I felt like the book couldn’t decide how realistic it wanted to be. On one hand, the actual plot is too crazy to happen in the real world (at least Christ, I hope it is). But on the other hand, how many of us have stories about assholes like this who felt they were entitled to women because they did something nice once? Obviously, we’re seeing the world through the perspective of this twatwaffle, but no one in the outside world seems to register his creepiness besides his captive. How can nobody notice something’s wrong?! Clarice’s own mother is willing to go for weeks without talking to her daughter because some SHADY STRANGER tells her Clarice is working on her art?!
And the ending! Ooooooooh the ending. I won’t say how it ended, but it really soured the book for me. It was just so unjust, and I know I’m meant to applaud its audaciousness, but I just couldn’t. It felt like the author was impressed with himself-I know I’m projecting, but I couldn’t get that thought out of my head as I read. Look how twisted this bad guy is, I imagine him thinking smugly over his keyboard, he’s just soooooo evil.
Different strokes, guys. As I said before, I know a lot of people who really liked this book. And while I liked some of this book-it was very well-written and full of gleefully absurd twists and turns-I can’t recommend it.