Sunday, March 13, 2011

The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa

Another tale of mayhem, history and the macabre from Vargas Llosa. Whereas Death in the Andes was compared to a Diane Arbus styled portrait the visual artists this book evokes is Heiryonmous Bosch or Breughal. A medieval meets the wild west landscape(turn of the century Brazil) of prophets, bandits, water witches, droughts, a storytelling dwarf, flagellants, miracle healers, madmen, plagues, vultures, rats, a revolutionary phrenologist, pariah dogs, Barons whose time has past, circus freaks, a Utopian colony, and marauding destructive army. Festooned with grotesques and corpses this is a book of violence and horror but it is a conflation of real history and not fiction. A historical novel in the tradition of Tolstoy, McCarthy, and Lampedusa. Exhaustively long but worth it.

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