“None of what you’re about to read is true.”
It has its own page. So The Girl from Tenerife is a book about writing a book, and Bernard Shaffer reminds us from time to time that he’s not to be trusted, an unreliable narrator in whom we’re not to put much stock. What we’ve just read or are about to read might have happened. Might not have. Or at least in the way he describes it.
Keeps a reader on his or her toes, doesn’t it?
So are we to believe the drunken sexual escapades of this ex-husband whose ex-wife sexually harasses him every time he goes to pick up the kids? Are we to believe he meets the love of his life—a gorgeous lass from the Canary Islands—when she’s tending bar, that she consents to date him even though she’s married and makes it clear that there’s no future for them?
Are we to believe he’s a devoted father despite his wanderings? Are we to believe he becomes an accidental hero-through-journalism to his local community? Are we to believe that he sees his life as analogous to a bull fight? And if so, is he the bull or the toreador or a mere picador setting up the bull for the kill? Or some other role in the contest?
Whatever we’re to believe, our first-person narrator (I don’t think he’s ever named) rollicks along, a wise-cracking, amusing storyteller who manages to surf his way through even the darkest parts of his tale without sacrificing its seriousness.
It’s quite a feat, and well worth the time and money. And this girl, the one from Tenerife—Sahily’s her name—she’s someone you definitely want to meet. Definitely. You can trust me on that.