Wednesday, 26 September 2012

forty-five.

the Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Luis de Bernières (1992)

"In the constitution of the city it states that "It is strictly forbidden to procure abortion by hanging a woman upside down in a sackful of ants and beating her until she miscarries. But it is permitted to procure abortions by means of dried llama foetuses." It also states that "All visitors wishing to use the whorehouse must carry a certificate of clean blood from the clinic in Ipasueño," and that "Anyone giving bad advice is responsible for what follows from that advice."

Cardinal Guzman is the perfect cardinal on the outside, but he has a secret affair with his cook which has resulted in an illegitimate son. He is given reports saying that the country is full of heretics and they must do something about it, so he sends out some priests. But the priests are behaving worse than the Spanish Inquisition and they are heading for Cochadebajo de los Gatos.

Yes! This book is exactly how I hoped it would be, only many times better. In fact, it's my favourite in the trilogy. The main reason for this is because it mainly dealt with the people of Cochadebajo and gave a lot of answers to things I wondered about in the first book (but also raised some new questions). And I got a much better picture of Dionisio in this one than in the previous book which bore his name. 

But the cats are still my favourites. And perhaps the President's sex life.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

forty-four.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

“He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink...” 

Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for tonight's party while her thoughts wander. She has the perfect life on the outside, her husband is a famous politician, the Prime Minister is even coming to the party, her daughter is beautiful and they are well-off. But she has a lot of regrets and they become evident when her long-time friend, Peter Walsh, suddenly turns up.

My first Woolf! And it has been rather a struggle. I'm not very fond of these streams of consciousness novels as I usually end up lost in thought and have no idea what I just read. I must also admit that it took about 20 pages before I realized that Mrs Dalloway and Clarissa were the same person!

 But then when I started focusing on what I read (even stopped and summarised), it became a lot easier and then towards the end I really enjoyed it.  I especially liked the part with Rezia and Septimus and although I really wondered how they fitted in, it all made sense in the end.

Still I have a feeling that I have missed a lot, and I definitely need to reread it later on in life. It's one of those books which need maturing. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

forty-three.

Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord by Louis de Bernières (1991)

 Dionisio Vivo is fed up with the coca gangs and writes critical letters about it. El Jerarca, the coca lord, isn't pleased and orders Dionisio killed. 

Second book in the Latin American trilogy and it was such a let down after reading the War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts. But still it is a great book. It is probably because I hoped that it would continue with the the village. I also didn't like how it mainly centred around Dionisio and his lover, Anica. I also found it less hilarious than the previous one.

Here's hoping the Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman will make up for it. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

forty-two.

the War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts by Louis de Bernières (1990)

 A fictitious country in South-America is ravaged by war. All kinds of war. It has gotten so far that no one remembers who they are fighting against. The people have to take care of themselves as the government is not to be trusted. 

The book has countless of characters, but mainly focuses on the people in a small village somewhere in the interior. The military comes now and then to sleep with the whores and occasionally kills a few of the inhabitants in drunken stupor. And then they may face being captured by one of the guerillas in the area. Or join them if they are fed up with the military.

Louis de Bernières has created an amazing country with excellent portraits of the characters. In the beginning it was hard to figure out who is who, but then as the characters are killed off, it gets easier. There are a lot of stories within the main story, and I haven't quite determined what the main story is. I love those chapters which can be read as short stories. It is a political satire, but has plenty of horrid scenes of rape, torture and murder. But also wonderful things like a woman giving birth to a cat and people waking up from the dead.

This is the first book I have read by de Bernièreres, although I have had 5 of them on my book shelves for years. I'm glad this is just the first book in a trilogy because I simply fell in love with the nameless country. 

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