no library jo
Agua, Perro, Caballo, Cabeza.
(Water, Dog, Horse, Head).
Tavares, Gonçalo M.
tr. by Ana M. García Iglesias. Mexico: Almadía. 2009. 91p. ISBN 978-607-411-026-5. pap. $10.95. STORIES
Angolan Tavares is perhaps the most original author writing in Portuguese today. Winner of numerous prizes and high praise from Nobel laureate José Saramago, Tavares currently teaches epistemology at the University of Lisbon. In this collection of 25 stories, where the ordinary and unusual cross paths, Tavares employs a tender and delicate approach. Though clinical at times, he offers a variety of case histories concerning the mad, the feeble, and even the cruel. In “Napoleon and the Violin,” a character named D’Olivet is certain he is being stalked by Napoleon Bonaparte. The grandfather of an ugly six-year-old girl reflects on life’s unfairness and tries to shield her from what is to come in “The River’s Objects.” “The Fourth Kingdom” offers an unusual triple strand of tales and reflections initially based on the Richter scale and how the damage of an earthquake is comparable to the damage inflicted in other realms. These stories offer discriminating readers an introduction to a voice, rhythm, and style worth exploring; the translation is flawless. Every important library should have this book on their shelves; highly recommended. [See also Jerusalén, reviewed below.—Ed.]—Catherine Rendón, Savannah, GA
Tavares, Gonçalo M.
tr. by Rita de Costa García. Mexico: Almadía. 2009. 225p. ISBN 978-607-411-028-9. pap. $21.95. FICTION
The author of novels, poetry, and short stories (see the collection Agua, Perro, Caballo, Cabeza, reviewed above), Tavares is poised for a long and distinguished literary career. It is not just the ease with which he writes but also his ability to weave deeper philosophical musings into the narrative that make him a master at his craft. This story brings together four individuals whose actions culminate on the dawn of one May 29 in an unnamed city. Dr. Theodor Busbeck, one of the protagonists, is obsessed with trying to make sense of evil and violence and the ultimate horror that results from a series of circumstances and choices. He is so intent on a sweeping historical view of his subject that he fails to see the concatenation of events around him. Tavares deftly moves through the labyrinths of philosophical inquiry, sounding out the mysteries of human behavior. The starkness of the scenes and the immediacy of the characters’ reactions and thoughts are reminiscent of Georg Büchner’s play, Woyzeck. Lovers of Joyce, Saramago, Lobo Antunes, and Banville will be mesmerized and want to reread this book, which is bound to become a classic and a keystone in the author’s oeuvre. Highly recommended for all libraries and bookstores.—Catherine Rendón, Savannah, GA