Chromos

Felipe Alfau, Author, Alfau Felipe, Author, Joseph Coates, Foreword by Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (348p) ISBN 978-0-916583-52-1
A man drops dead moments after a life insurance agent pays a sales call; grieving family members conduct their lives around his immobile corpse, preserved with frown, spectacles and pen in hand. That bit of black comedy conveys the absurdist flavor of Alfau's experimental novel, written in 1948 but never before published. It concerns a motley band of ``Americaniards'' (emigre Spaniards) in Manhattan in the 1930s who discover that the American ``melting pot'' is a great maw that threatens to devour their Spanish identity. As one of the group, a struggling novelist, reads aloud portions of his melodramatic work-in-progress (a novel within this novel), Spain's machismo, pride, stormy emotionalism, code of honor, bullfighting, Catholicism and sundry other preoccupations are skewered. Alfau's prose lurches from conversational banter to baroque sentences that nearly explode under the strain of their internal contradictions and subversive wit. This remarkable, if verbose, novel is a worthy successor to Alfau's Locos (1936), which Dalkey reissued last year. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-1-56478-204-5
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-0-679-73443-7
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