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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
This book is mainly about a village in Peru that lies between the jungle and the desert. A brothel that is built on the outskirts of village is at the heart of the story, and the effect it has on the lives of the village residents and the surrounding area are the threads of the story. I've never before read Llosa. It was an unusual reading experience for me, and at times I found it hard to follow. Even now that I've had plenty of time to reflect, I don't know if I loved it or hated it, or if it was brilliant or if it was mediocre. I would definitely read Llosa again, just because I'd like to figure him out. He's somewhat of an enigma to me ... and I like that.
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
The prolific Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa is according to many, THE Voice of Latin American literature. He is well known for his political activism and has a long tenure as a high profile spokesman for Spanish language letters. In 1994 he was the recipient of the prestigious Miguel De Cervantes Prize. His oeuvre spans journalism, fiction, criticism and drama. Having only read his War at the End of the World oh so many years ago, I picked his second novel 1965’s, The Green House to review. Some critics hold this up as his most important work. Being a glutton for punishment, I opted for it since its also thought of as his most difficult novel. Viscera. There is no single protagonist per se, rather there are intertwined narratives focusing around six major characters who are all inhabitants of the Piura region of northwest Peru. Their story is gradually re-constructed in Llosa’s narrative kaleidoscope which I will visit in Bones. The novel’s plot, which as readers of Traces know by now usually is not summarized, is complicated. Suffice to say its synopsis would be a feat in itself…But since it IS a challenge, here is a rough sketch anyway: In the rural village of Santa María de Nieva, lives Bonifacia, a young Aruguna Indian who is a nun-in-waiting. She lets two Aruguna Indian girls out of the convent’s enclosed yard to escape, as they were forcibly taken from their jungle huts by soldiers in an attempt to ‘civilize’ them. After she is expelled from the convent one narrative follows her trajectory from Nun to prostitute (as ‘Wildflower’) and her relationships that will affect the five other main characters. Meanwhile another storyline follows the life of Don Anselmo, a stranger who appears one day and endears himself to the townspeople, later he becomes the proprietor of The Green House, a brothel he has built at the edge of town. After a debacle and tragedy (no plot spoiled here) he undergoes a transformation of sorts and becomes a quasi-orphic figure known as ‘the harp player’. Simultaneously related is the story of the fugitive Japanese Trader Fushía and his part in the development of the region against the backdrop of the story of the Lituma, a soldier and local home town favorite who becomes a ‘cop’ and is sent by the corrupt Governor to put a stop to the exploitation by the Rubber traders (who compete with the equally corrupt Governor) of the indigenous Indian tribes. Then we have the side story of Lalita, wife of first Fushía, then Adrían Nieves, who uses the men as they use her. Lastly is the story of the river ‘pilot’ Adrían Nieves, whose actions interrelate with all the above mentioned as he is relied on as a navigator who plies his boat on the jungle rivers, facilitating at different points, both the illegal traders and the soldiers who will later hunt him. Bones. The overall structure is a montage that Llosa’s favorite American author Faulkner would have envied. The narrative jumps back and forth chronologically from a myriad of perspectives, and each section’s context only gradually makes sense as the collage is pieced together. Of the two main frames, one is an ongoing reconstruction of the past part the illustrious fugitive Trader Fushía played in his trade with the different jungle tribes, as he later relates to his only trusted fellow trader Don Aquilino , as he gradually fills in gaps in time where Aquilino was not present. Framed within their narrative, Llosa uses a “picture in picture” technique to flashback to dialogue sections in present tense to the actual scenes he is relating, ’camera shots’ of exchanges of conversation. As if dramatizing, or ‘showing’ while simultaneously telling Fushía’s perspective of the same fictive events to Aquilino. The jumps are frequent and at first hard to follow, but later the repetitions of this device their context becomes apparent and resonate off each other. The second main frame narrative threads interleave the stream of consciousness sections focalized from many different characters, even peripheral...