Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
One of my favourite films is Peter Weir’s underrated 1993 gem Fearless, starring Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. The film’s screenplay was adapted by an author from his own novel of the same name, and I’ve always been keen to read the source material. Recently I finally managed to do so, and I was richly rewarded. So my Book of the Week this week is Rafael Yglesias’ all-consuming, devastating and incredible novel, Fearless.
The book begins with a stunningly immersive and scarily visceral description of a plane crash, which is absolutely not for the faint of heart. But through these scenes, we’re introduced to the book’s two central characters. Max is an architect in his early forties, flying back from a business trip with the co-owner of his firm. Carla is a young mother who is flying with her two-year-old son, whom she affectionately calls Bubble. It’s hopefully not too much of a spoiler to say that Max’s business partner and Carla’s son both unfortunately die when the plane crash lands en route to its destination in New York.
While Max and Carla, along with around half of the other passengers, survive the crash, the two main protagonists deal with the situation in different ways. Carla is understandably devastated by the loss of her child, and spirals into a despondent state of despair that her frustrated husband and mother struggle to shake her out of. Max, meanwhile, reaches an almost existential state of calm, with a sense that he’s almost invulnerable to danger or death, frustrating his family in a different way. His new stance on his life is stark, and laced with humour as well as a disturbing sense of dread, while Carla’s utter grief is completely heart-rending.
Yglesias writes the perspective of both characters beautifully, and when they come together in the final third of the book, the effect is exhilarating. Max and Carla are almost the only people one another can understand, and together, the notion of what it means to have ‘passed through death’, as Max suggests, is made manifest. Carla is pulled out of her devastation, and Max is brought back to appreciating existence in a different way. As Yglesias writes of Max very end of the book, “I’m alive, he rejoiced. I’m alive. And I’m afraid.”
The book teaches us that such fear is a vital part of appreciating life. It’s wonderfully well written and truly original. I highly recommend seeking it out, and that is why Fearless by Rafael Yglesias is my Book of the Week this week.