Review of Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes

A Möbius striptease.

Time is a permeable membrane.
Cervantes and Caesar, Bosch and Quetzalcoatl.
Historical figures rise, maggot-ridden from their tombs to conquer, make love, philosophize and dissolve in the polychromatic strobe of dreams. These fantasies fuse with antiquity, birthed from moldered tomes, exhausting the faiths of pious men, eviscerating kings, and bleeding across timelines.

The symbolic journey of this novel is an intense, dense, immense expedition through Old Spain, New Spain, and lands beyond, fraught with wordplay, wigwams, and wampeters. The repetitions, revolutions, and rhythms blossom in the final pages, recalling the mythological wheel of time, the mechanics of Fate, God playing ‘ghost in the machine,’ and ouroboroses in a boudoir. As Kundera explains in his afterword, the novel spreads its wings to encompass interior and exterior worlds, landscapes of the mind and the abyss of the heart.

A novel of conquest, submission, doom, and the many frightened cries of the powerless souls lost in the continuous apocalypse of the past. The past rests on our shoulders, like a prolapsed soul, weighty, invasive, and recurrent.

The Nature of existence, echoing the edenic ambitions human beings inherit from the great puppeteer in the cosmic theater. A bold deathly pale specter hovering over Mexican literature, this monolithic masterpiece bends your ear gently, only to scream its nightmarish hymn into the echo chamber of your brain.

An unforgettable, Joycean whirlpool of perennial, Imperialist themes, set to a constant boil until the precipitate becomes a Kraken with its myriad limbs straddling the limits of temporal awareness and physical sensation.

Review of Vlad by Carlos Fuentes

Fuentes serves up a vampire yarn in a minimalist style. Compared to many of his other works, this one is straightforward, short, and perhaps a departure from his ordinary fare.

What begins as a hilarious and subtly creepy familial tale, complete with comedic and eccentric descriptions of a Count morphs into psychologically disturbing territory. Culminating in a bleak and eerie crescendo of terror, the relentlessness of fate, the literary, utilitarian language and the dark humor will appeal to many brave readers.

The old theme of temptation, and the dread of death, in all of its embodiments drives the narrator. One of the character calls history “a garbage dump of lies.” And one of the short chapters is devoted to criticizing the ill-wrought secrets of human progress.

If you’re not ready for Terra Nostra, come savor the seamy dreamlike imagery of Vlad, nibble on the symbolism, sip at the bloody and noxious fountain of its perversion.