Open Road Integrated Media (ORIM) released the Green Pen in English in September 2015. I was intrigued by the following description on NetGalley.com and I was thrilled when my reading request was approved:
“The plot of the novel is that of life itself; a sensitive and intelligent portrayal of the every day. Witness the ups and downs of a marriage through the eyes of a young husband and father whose obsession with a lost and found ordinary green marker leads him to what is essential in life.”
I did a word search of the book on my Kindle. Amazingly, the word pen only popped up twice! How can anyone be called obsessive when the only time the narrator uses the word “pen” at the end of the book?
WELL! Thanks to the Goodreads review of the Spanish edition by Mike Leach, the mystery is solved. The translated story skips a very important portion of the story!
Here’s what you need to know about the green pen, and after you read it, you are good to go with the English translation. Trust me; the story will make more sense. You’ll know what I am talking when you meet Sara and Rafa.
“The story turns round the green gel pen in question. The narrator loses pens (office colleagues borrow them) so he buys a green one, as no one else would have such and he could easily find it again. When it goes missing he obsessively starts looking for it, and as he does so poking into or otherwise hearing about the personal lives of his colleagues, taking up lots of time.“
Our unnamed narrator writes in his diary, ”
…I’ve been thinking about old times, childhood times, times I still hold onto like a treasure.”
The narration begins with memories of his precious vacations with his family and best friend, Toni. The story is so well crafted; I swear I am there with them. Why the family would chose to vacation in La Mancha, a high arid plateau is beyond me. When the boys decide to build a shelter to escape the inescapable sun, I think, make room for me!
I much preferred traveling with the boys to the Abats’ mountain house in the Pyrenees. The large starry sky, endless adventures in the woods and hours of wilderness exploring filled their days.
Sadly, our narrator remembers when those wonderful days stopped and we feel his loss.
Anyone over the age of 12 knows that the day will come when childhood ends and the rest of your life begins. Something happens and unexpectedly you know you are no long immortal and invincible. A day will start just like any other day. Cruel fate snaps her fingers and just like that…it’s over.
“Not once did we sense what was going to come crashing down on us- how cruel words could sometimes be- that afternoon.”
This quote from the diary is prophetic in so many ways; especially now that I told you about the missing green pen back story. Keep that in your mind as you wander around in his.
Our narrator is separated from his wife and child and alienated from his best friend. He can’t get through a day without recycling everything that has happened to him trying to make sense of why his wife left and what has gone wrong in his life. What can and should he do about it all?
He picks up the green pen, and starts out with the first entry,
“It’s been months that I’ve been planning to write down all that happened in 2002, when I was reborn.”
And he starts that change when he leaves his unsettled life and heads to the Pyrenees. He has arrived
Long distance backpackers can really relate to his plan; heading to the hills is far cheaper than therapy. There have been moments in my life that nature has cleared the playing field in my mind and I have been able to rethink a problem that seems to be impossible to tackle or solve.
Our troubled husband has placed himself on a high mountain trail and challenges himself physically and emotionally. He finds strengths within himself that he didn’t know existed. His daily routine has stripped him to the basics, freeing his mind to dig deeper and retrieve a personal route to a new life; back to love happiness and friendship.