Roberto Arlt, celebrated in Argentina for his tragicomic, punch-in-the-jaw writing during the 1920s and 1930s, was a forerunner of Latin American “boom” and “postboom” novelists such as Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. Mad Toy, acclaimed by many as Arlt’s best novel, is set against the chaotic background of Buenos Aires in the early twentieth century. Set in the badlands of adolescence, where acts of theft and betrayal become metaphors for creativity, Mad Toy is equal parts pulp fiction, realism, detective story, expressionist drama, and creative memoir.
An immigrant son of a German father and an Italian mother, Arlt as a youth was a school dropout, poor and often hungry. In Mad Toy, he incorporates his personal experience into the lives of his characters. Published in 1926 as El juguete rabioso, the novel follows the adventures of Silvio Astier, a poverty-stricken and frustrated youth who is drawn to gangs and a life of petty crime. As Silvio struggles to bridge the gap between exuberant imagination and the sordid reality around him, he becomes fascinated with weapons, explosives, vandalism, and thievery, despite a desperate desire to rise above his origins. Flavored with a dash of romance, a hint of allegory, and a healthy dose of irony, the novel’s language varies from the cultured idiom of the narrator to the dialects and street slang of the novel’s many colorful characters.
Mad Toy has appeared in numerous Spanish editions and has been adapted for the stage and for film. It is the second of Arlt’s novels to be translated into English.
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MAD TOYUser Review - Jane Doe - Kirkus
This is the first (1926) novel published by the neglected Argentinian postmodernist writer (1900-42) whose phantasmagoric The Seven Madmen (English translation, 1999) rivals the masterpieces of ... Read full review
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Aguafuertes Argentine Arlt’s asked Astier beautiful Buenos Aires Captain Márquez cave clothes coﬀee corner Dardo Rocha dark didn’t Dío Fetente dirty Don Gaetano Don Miguel Doña María door Drodman ears El juguete rabioso Enrique Enrique’s eyes face ﬁgure ﬁlled ﬁnally ﬁnd ﬁne ﬁngers ﬁnished ﬁrst ﬁve ﬂashed ﬂoor ﬂowers Frau gonna hair hands he’s head Irzubeta Jorge Luis Borges Juan Juan Carlos Onetti Judas Iscariot juguete rabioso Julio Cortázar laugh lips looked Lucio lunfardo Mad Toy Mamá Maximito n n n Naidath night oﬀ oﬀer oﬃce oﬃcers paper patio pesos poet remember Rengo Ricardo Güiraldes Roberto Arlt Rocambole Rubio Señor Souza Silvio slang smile Spanish stopped street suddenly suﬀer sure sweet talking tell there’s things thought took translation turned voice walked wall What’s who’s woman words writer you’re young