English translation, review of CADAQUES in InKultura Magazine:
It could be so lovely in the idyllic village of Cadaqués. Here, the all-inclusive tourists stay in the areas directed towards them and, fortunately, seldom get lost in the bars and restaurants visited by the local artists. Still feeding on the glory of the past, the epigones of Salvador Dali, Picasso, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Luis Buñuel, Federico Garcia Lorca, Andre Breton, John Cage and other artists formerly living in Cadaqués spend their time with alcohol-soaked reminiscing of a potential future.
Cal is one of them. Ostensibly financially secure via an inheritance, he is in the comfortable position of being able to dedicate his time to literature and the act of writing. He finds, probably to even his own surprise, a publisher willing to undertake the risk of publishing his new book. When he also succeeds in his conquest of the young and beautiful Layla, Cal believes to have finally arrived at the culmination of his own desires.
Both the almost tangible fame of being a successful writer and the fact that he has succeeded in seducing an aloof woman who even leaves her longtime but much older boyfriend for him delude Cal into thinking that he has finally arrived in life. While his happiness seems to demonstrate a complete disconnect from reality, a demon, waiting only for the moment to be released from Cal's control, already lurks deep inside him.
With literary ferocity, Michael Lederer tells the story of a summer that begins in exceedingly good spirits but ends with a long, long fall. Cadaqués is a novel about a generation of self-proclaimed but mediocre, barely successful artists living comfortably in the myth of Cadaqués, believing themselves to be the legitimate successors of the great artists who once lived there. Neverthless, they spend their time wasting any potential and artistic creativity, instead living as much as possible in the world of the hypothetical.
Even Cal, the novel's central character, is a victim of this undeniable grand delusion. It is the knowledge of one's own failure, which Lederer dissects with concise language and a feel for the inner emptiness of this little community, that, in contrast to the winsome Brit Robert's remarks, actually make them a lost generation.
Without question, this clique is educated, eloquent, and likeable, and the author succeeds in developing the fragile mechanisms steering this tight-knit community. Yet it is precisely through his great empathy for the psyches of his protagonists that Lederer dismantles and even rips apart their perpetual flight from reality.
It is this pitiless reality that Cal must accept when he becomes acquainted with the family of Cassandra, whose members, in the spirit of capitalism, can only think in terms of currency and display little to no understanding of other forms of social life. For them, art represents only the money spent on it and is therefore only an object of financial speculation. Michael Lederer portrays these characters as deservedly loathsome, yet he allows his protagonist Cal to feel, deep within himself, that these are the kind of people who rule the world.
Cal, who at the beginning of their relationship still believes that through Layla he is protected from this world, must endure the painful realization that their love is actually the initial spark for the solution to his problem with alcohol. Like nearly all of his friends in Cadaqués, he attempts to fend off the subconscious knowledge of artist failure through heavy drinking. Michael Lederer portrays these characters with much sympathy, but still depicts them as the alcoholics they really are. Cal succeeds in breaking away from this vicious cycle, but the price he must pay is high.
Cadaqués is a wonderful novel that masterfully upholds a balance between melancholy and joy. With deep empathy for the artistic endeavors – or individual failures – of its characters, the novel describes a summer that, as its participants must all know, is to be the last of its kind.