Juan Tovar, Author , trans. from the Spanish by Leland H. Chambers. McPherson $20 (159p) ISBN 978-0-929701-68-4

Mexican writer Tovar's evocative, hallucinatory "dream novel," his first book published in English translation, is based loosely on the concept of a pilgrimage that allows the author to wander far and wide as he vaguely connects a series of plot snippets and some religious and erotic imagery in a disparate variety of settings and scenarios. Structured as a series of interconnected short stories that often puzzle rather than illuminate, Tovar's novel works as the literary equivalent of a Buñuel film—character archetypes come and go, settings change at irregular intervals with little or no warning, and time becomes circular as the author's various narrative lines wander erratically between past and present. The two consistent threads are Tovar's elegiac, poetic prose and his recurring efforts to tie the loose threads into an ongoing narrative, with the former being far more effective than the latter. Wandering from the Siberian gulag to a pre-Christian sequence to a scene in which the narrator becomes a bookseller in a war-torn city, the text makes great demands on the reader. Tovar is a talented writer who tackles a difficult literary task in occasionally shimmering, luminous prose, but the work's challenges are many and its rewards sparse. Author tour to Chicago, Denver and San Francisco. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
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