Swallowing Stones

Lisa St Aubin De Teran, Author . Harper Perennial $13.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-078104-0

This fictional autobiography of one of the 20th century's more colorful, if obscure, revolutionaries presents a delightful ramble through five decades of international political intrigue while connecting the dots among dozens of armed revolts. Narrated by Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, a Venezuelan intellectual, Communist revolutionary and social philosopher, the book—part apology and part corrective—follows Barreto from his birth in San Cristobal in 1934 up to the present. His ostensible purpose is threefold: to set the record straight about his exploits, to offer his view of post–Cold War communism and world revolution and to present an entertaining narrative, rife with irony and good humor, but marked by the ultimate loss of ideals. Although he remains a committed Marxist, Oswaldo loses faith in the practical application of communism. Terán (The Hacienda ) renders Oswaldo as an erudite, candid, witty commentator as she unspools a narrative that reads like a who's who of world revolution. Cameos of Che, Castro, Lukás, Ben Barka, Allende and many others propel the story forward, and Barreto's on-and-off romance with his Persian wife, Vida, keeps his personal life lively. Although dense and sometimes redundant, the narrative entices and fascinates with its breadth and scope. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Hardcover - 526 pages - 978-0-06-078103-3
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