Singing from the well

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Penguin Books, Jun 3, 1988 - Fiction - 206 pages
19 Reviews
A POWERFUL NOVEL OF GROWING UP IN A WORLD WHERE NIGHTMARE HAS BECOME REALITY, AND FANTASY PROVIDES THE ONLY ESCAPEHis mother talks piously of the heaven that awaits the good, and disciplines him with an ox prod. His grandmother burns his treasured crosses for kindling. His cousins meet to plot their grandfather's death. Yet in the hills surrounding his home, another reality exists, a place where his mother wears flowers in her hair, and his cousin Celestino, a poet who inscribes verse on the trunks of trees, understands his visions.The first novel in Reinaldo Arenas's "secret history of Cuba", a quintet he called the Pentagonia, Singing from the Well is by turns explosively crude and breathtakingly lyrical. In the end, it is a stunning depiction of childhood besieged by horro -- and a moving defense of liberty and the imagination in a world of barbarity, persecution, and ignorance.

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Review: Singing from the Well

User Review  - Ronald Wilcox - Goodreads

Surreal. Tangential. Bizarre. Interesting. Four words that sum up the first book in the Pentagonia. Arena's main character is a little boy from a very poor family who constantly imagines strange things about his family that help him to deal with their abusive behavior. Read full review

Review: Singing from the Well

User Review  - Chris Campanioni - Goodreads

I compare Arenas' debut novel (and the first in his Pentagonia) to YA for intellectuals. This is a surreal, fragmented picture of life as a child in Cuba. Read full review

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About the author (1988)

The novel The Ill-fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando recreates in a poetic style, in which time, space, and character move on multiple planes of fantasy and reality, the life of Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, a Mexican priest famous for his hatred of the Spaniards. Mier denied even that the Spaniards had brought Christianity to the New World. Arenas begins with a letter to the friar: "Ever since I discovered you in an execrable history of Spanish literature, described as the friar who had traveled over the whole of Europe on foot having improbable adventures; I have tried to find out more about you." In a meditation on the nature of fiction, Arenas discovers that he and Servando are the same person, and author and character become one.

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