Natural History

Juan Perucho, Author, Joan Perucho, Author Alfred A. Knopf $17.95 (186p) ISBN 978-0-394-57058-7
The first of Catalan author Perucho's works to be published outside Spain, this fantastical vampire story set around Barcelona during the Carlist civil wars of the 1830s is, in its bookish fictiveness, reminiscent of Borges and Calvino; yet its strong infusion of Catalan culture lends it an accent all its own. Young aristocrat Antoni de Montpalau, a passionate scientist, progressive and liberal, having deduced scientifically that a vampire has committed a mysterious series of murders, is drawn into pursuit of the creature, which has assumed the aspect of a Carlist guerrilla leader known as the Owl. Montpalau is soon captured, however, by the Carlist General Cabrera who turns out to be one of the Owl's victims; despite their political differences, the two become fast friends. Fully aware that only if the vampire is destroyed before his victim, can he himself avoid becoming a vampire, Cabrera's involvement in the hunt becomes increasingly urgent, while the vampire metamorphoses always in startling guises. Unfortunately, Perucho's novel, for all its invention and playful mock erudition, disappoints in its failure to draw the reader into its conceits with an impelling narrative flow or to point outside itself to larger meaning. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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