cover image A Cock-Eyed Comedy

A Cock-Eyed Comedy

Juan Goytisolo, , trans. from the Spanish by Peter Bush. . City Lights, $13.95 (173pp) ISBN 978-0-87286-450-4

Spanish literary trickster Goytisolo exhibits fine satirical form in this bawdy, fictional tale of a Catholic cleric's sexual wanderings across history and borders. Father Trennes, the novel's determinedly priapic, oft-incarnated subject, lives in present-day Spain as a leader of the church's profoundly conservative organization, Opus Dei, but in this mischievously sacrilegious story by the author of State of Siege and other fabulist delights, the good father is a very bad boy. One exultant chapter recounts his "prayer meetings" with a series of swarthy immigrants, "firm as a steel spigot" or endowed with "a lethal jack-in-the-box." In another, he's savoring the delights of "secret dwellings"—among them the Parisian movie palace men's rooms and the bathhouses of Manhattan. The author (who pops up frequently as a character, as do other literary figures including Jean Genet and Manuel Puig) is mindful that reckless sexual pursuits can lead to the illness that has killed friends and fellow writers. But beyond that poignant lament, Goytisolo's hyperbolic frolic through a ribald sexual landscape is an awful lot of fun, if often confusing. This certainly ranks among the acclaimed Spaniard's most overtly lusty gay-themed fables, and Bush's playfully colloquial translation adds plenty of zest. (Feb.)