Rosa Montero: “The Madwoman of the House”


“A writer always writes. That is, actually, the beauty of being a writer: the never ending swirl of words inside your head”, claims Rosa Montero, a Spanish journalist and fiction writer.

Throughout the collection of autobiographical essays, there is an underlying question: do you became a writer as a consequence of things that happen to you in your life, or do you give meaning to seemingly unimportant events, retrospectively turning them into stories, because you are a writer?

Montero confesses that she’s afraid of shaping her ideas into stories, because everything sounds better in one’s head. Putting your stories on paper means trapping them into the limitations of physical world and making them susceptible to criticism. She fears that she might not do justice to what she believes is a great idea. I think that many authors have occasionally felt the same way. I know I did.

Montero is writing about her life, and about her writing. The two seem to be be inextricably linked, and it appears that, for her, it is impossible to write about one without also writing about the other. The end result is a pulsing, living entity of a book. Reading Montero’s thoughts made me feel like I have just had coffee and a chat with my friend, a fellow writer: we have complained to one another about our struggles and fears related to our writing, but at the end of the day, we are both convinced that the end result is worth every sacrifice. Throughout the book, there were many passages when I thought: “finally, there is someone who understands”.

The author writes about the wonderful, but also about the dangerous aspects of being a writer. She warns about the writers’ propensity towards vanity, and their constant thirst for building their readership. In a way, she is offering us a mirror: neither a flattering, nor a twisted one: a plain, regular mirror which shows the image as it is. I for one admire her for her honesty, and her ability to write so accurately about the things that, it seems to me, many writers struggle with.

“The Madwoman of the House” is not merely an autobiography, neither is it fiction: perhaps the most accurate description would be to call it a meta-autobiography.

I would definitely recommend this book to all writers, regardless whether they are already established authors or are at the beginning of their artistic path.

Have you read the book? Did you like it?


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