cover image Fury


Clyo Mendoza, trans. from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney. Seven Stories, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-64421-371-1

Drawing on the language of cinema and oral history, Mendoza debuts with a beguiling and enticing fever dream of sex and violence in the Mexican desert. The story begins in the aftermath of a battle, possibly during the Mexican Civil War, though the passage of time in Mendoza’s hands is slippery and undefined. Juan and Lázaro, two young soldiers from opposing armies, meet while rounding up the dead and decide to desert together. On the road, they encounter a trader who tells them an elliptical story about a man who makes a deal with the devil to learn the truth about his lineage and ends up turning into a dog. The ex-soldiers then hole up in a cave and become lovers before Lázaro falls mortally ill. Juan aches with desire for Lázaro and has nightmarish visions of his demise (“The idea of death grew within him like something akin to the long desert horizon. A great, black, cubic space, something his eyes were incapable of measuring”). It turns out Juan and Lázaro are half-brothers, and the novel’s later sections, full of strange recursive scenes that reference the trader’s story, gradually reveal a legacy of adultery, rape, and murder. The narrative also follows another man, Salvatore, who wanders into the desert like the hero of a film he’s obsessed with before he transforms into a dog, has sex with cacti, and commits other freakish acts. Mendoza’s depictions of her troubled characters’ inner lives are as indelible as her monstrous visions. This is impossible to put down. (Feb.)