The Assault

Reinaldo Arenas, Author, Andrew Hurley, Translator Viking Books $20.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-670-84066-3
Set after the ``last big war'' in a society of ``degenerate beasts''--where human beings have snouts and claws and the criminals sport polished shaved heads--this is the final novel in the late Cuban-born Arenas's ``Pentagonia'' quintet ( Singing from the Well ; The Palace of the White Skunks , etc. ), a fictional exploration of Castro-era Cuba. Narrated by an agent for the ``Bureau of Counterwhispering,'' the novel details the agent's mission to find and execute whisperers against the ``Glorious Nation'' and its ``Represident.'' It's a country where ``no one has a name, and all orientations help to make sure that one stranger is exactly like every other stranger, so that no one can remember anybody in particular, and therefore no one can be remembered.'' His motivation, however, is more personal than political: a desire to find and kill his mother because he is ``coming to look more like her every day''--and herein lies the key to Arenas's parable. But this brief and original novel is burdened with much repetition; the thin plot is hindered by the excessive partitioning of the narrative into short chapters. More satire than allegory, the book is also hurt by an abrupt ending. But Arenas does draw a disturbing portrait of the political extremes and superfluous nationalism of a society headed toward a point where ``every person will find joy in betraying every other person, eating every other person, and for that they will even patiently wait their turn.'' (July)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.