Algo ha pasado_PostLet me tell you immediately that Something Happened is not just any novel. It is a colossal work that will require all your bravery as exquisite readers to go through its more than 600 pages of soliloquy plagued with inner demons, fear and guilt. Listen closely: I have here the endless monologue of a restless man; the story, or rather the tragedy, of Bob Slocum is narrated by himself. Bob Slocum. You will remember that name.

Bob Slocum is a businessman employed in an insurance agency in New York of the 50’s. He is set on moving up in his company, while he fears and hates half of his suit and tie colleagues, though in general he knows how to swim in that fishbowl and it suits him. He is married, although he has been thinking about divorce even before marriage. He has mistresses, and finds company in rent beds regularly. It is of no use. He has three children. He hates his oldest daughter, who is now beginning to answer back; he behaves with her in a childish way, trying to win all the dialectical clashes only to make her feel inferior. It does not suit him to hate her. He only loves his middle son, who is 9 years old, and a bit of a wallflower – the boy cannot climb the rope in P.E. -, so he feels disappointed because his son is also starting to let him down. The youngest son Derek is another case: he suffers from cerebral palsy. His mental age will never go beyond five years old. His body will. Slocum is ashamed of him, and does everything he can to forget about him. He fears that one day Derek will just start masturbating in public while yelling absurdities. He wishes his son had never been born, and deep down, he and his wife blame each other for it. His wife arouses him sometimes, but he never shows affection. In the rare occasions he’s at home, in Connecticut, his impulse is apathy, and he scarcely talks to his family.

What happens, deep down, is that it fills his soul with shame to think about the things he could have while he was still young but didn’t, and he makes others pay for it. He is afraid of the future. He is afraid of death now that he has begun to grow old.

Every page, every new situation in Bob Slocum’s life is a new tragedy. With every passing day the ball gets bigger, and Bob Slocum is blowing up. Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, seems to use his character to destroy the idealization of the triumphant middle-class executive, if there ever was such a thing. He seems to want to tell us: hate this guy. But it’s hard, despite everything. His deranged and very dark mood and his brutal honesty are frightening and addictive because his sins are our sins. Something Happened is a powerful novel, an exhibition of profound observation of the modern man’s nature; or at least, of his most cynical part. And the staging is painful, yes, but also corrosively entertaining; cruel as a reproach, rewarding as a confession. Whether there is forgiveness or not.