Leonardo's Bicycle

Paco Ignacio Taibo, II, Author, Martin Michael Roberts, Translator Mysterious Press $21.95 (453p) ISBN 978-0-89296-589-2
Mexican novelist Taibo (No Happy Ending, Life Itself) has already secured a name with his inventive, slangy books, the last of which introduced his investigator-novelist Jose Daniel Ferro. This is a much bigger, more ambitious book than his previous outings, however, and though it is ingenious in many ways, it demands considerable patience. For a start, it is that tricky literary looking-glass, a novel about a writer trying to write a novel: Ferro is stuck, with a deadline for a new book staring him in the face, and becomes obsessed with a young Texan basketball player, Karen Turner, he sees on stateside TV in his slummy Mexico City apartment. When Turner disappears after a teammate is murdered, he learns she has been found in Ciudad Juarez, near death after having had one kidney removed; and he imagines finding her and tracking down her abductors. Other elements in the book, which zigzags wildly in time and space, include the saga of a CIA man who escapes from Saigon and searches for the Bulgarian with whom he left a trunkload of heroin; a hectic picture of 1920 Barcelona, with anarchists and cops shooting it out on every street corner; and, giving the book its title, occasional visits to the remarkable papers left by Leonardo in the course of his strange life, including his apparent invention of the bicycle. It is all violent, surrealistic, told at a headlong pace and with a brilliant range of contemporary reference, from porn video to the music of Santana. There's hardly a dull moment, but the lack of narrative coherence-things only ever so slightly come together into recognizable shape-works against reader involvement beyond grudging admiration. The translation is superb. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/1995
Release date: 09/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-446-40491-4
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