Horses Into the Night: Baltasar Porcel (C)

Baltasar Porcel, Author, John L. Getman, Translator
Baltasar Porcel, Author, John L. Getman, Translator University of Arkansas Press $30 (240p) ISBN 978-1-55728-332-0
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-55728-333-7
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``Three small horses in gold on a field of black'' are heraldic symbols of Escolastic de Capovara, an aristocrat from the town of Andratch in northern Majorca and the master of Son Capovara--until the thoroughly reprehensible Jaume Vadell appropriates both standard and demesne. Translated into English for the first time, this winner of the 1976 Spanish Literary Critics Award is really a gathering of gruesome and gothic stories about Jaume's descendants as they gallop toward oblivion. The Majorca described by the clan's wary survivor isn't a sunny vacation spot but an overripe Mediterranean cousin of Annie Proulx's and Howard Norman's Newfoundland, filled with characters scarred both by their isolation and by the hard environment of the sea. The Vadells in particular seem prey to foreign religious influences that wash up on shore: a few fall to the depredations of Moorish pirates; others to a fatal fascination with the schismatic Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII). Although stories of incest (and its freakish results), horrifying revenge, autos-da-fe and unhinged monomania are not for everyone, for readers with a taste for the Grand Guignol, there is an undeniable cruel elegance to Porcel's prose (``like the solitude of my husband Ferran, already an animal, ringing his bell in his room for me to come to him, sitting there in his wheelchair, a survivor in the antechamber of a death that would not come''). (May)
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