Beneath the Waters

Franca J. Oswaldo, Author, Oswaldo Franca, Author, Margaret A. Neves, Translator Ballantine Books $15 (176p) ISBN 978-0-345-36461-6
A nameless South American town is frozen in time when ``the waters came'' and destroyed everything. The flood is used as a starting point to recount the individual lives unfolding as the disaster occurred. Franca ( The Long Haul ) weaves histories of hardworking, earthbound people, their brushes with love, pk and with tragedy, injustice and greed. Typical is the story of Aluisio, who marries Vanessa, has six children and accepts an opportunity to sell caustic lime, enabling him to ``enlarge and redecorate his house, buy a truck and start something you really could call a pig-raising operation.'' Vanessa does not complain when he fills their home with pig photos, gambles away his earnings, then goes blind from the lime, and the couple isn't couple singular?/reinstate works?pk works together to strengthen their enterprises. ``But the waters came and covered their house, the pig farm, the construction warehouse, and also the home of a woman called Sinara.'' A two-dimensional quality and an evenness of tone common to magic realism suffuse the novel. But while Franca's is a fine experiment in a chain of very short narratives--the broad and brief descriptions of each family evoke the town as well as existential joy and futility--the fact that no character ever reappears robs the work of dynamism. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/17/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0800-0
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