A Guide to Central Europe

Richard M. Bassett, Author
Richard M. Bassett, Author Viking Books $19.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-670-81113-7
Reviewed on: 06/26/1987
Release date: 07/01/1987
Nightmare haunts the frantic child who sets down these memories: whether awake or sleeping, he is pursued by hatchets and brooms, witches and pecking birds, is eaten by his mother, whom he eats in turnall of this a product of fantasy-ridden imagination. Only in the company of his cousin Celestino, a poet and his other self, does he find love and solace, but the trees on which Celestino writes his verses are cut down by his grandfather until the landscape is as bare as the cupboards in the rat-infested house. The dead are all around him, dancing and mocking; they are variously his cousins, his aunts, his grandparents and especially Celestino, slowly being starved to death. Yet hope cannot be quenched, for the boy looks forward to Christmas, to the family's all-day feast in the midst of death by starvation. The narrative's first image and the last are of the well, with the face of the narrator reflected in the water. Although this is a book for special tastes, lacking as it does a story line, chronology and clear delineation of character, the world it creates is so strange and grotesque that reading it is like entering a dream. Cuban writer Arenas wrote Farewell to the Sea, the third volume in a pentagory, of which this book is the first. (July 22)
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