by Mark Jacobs ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 25, 1999
Thirteen stories in a second collection, mainly set in Paraguay, by US diplomat and novelist Jacobs (A Cast of Spaniards, 1994; Stone Cowboy, 1997). Jacobsâ€” mind seems divided on Paraguay, fascinated and horrified to an equal degree by its history, religion, and politics. The title story, for example, describes the life of one Arami Bedoya, a peasant taken from her parents as a child and raised in a secret â€”orphanageâ€” maintained to provide the country's President with a steady supply of young mistresses. After escaping her fate by running away, Arami is consumed by a lust for vengeance and plots an assassination. â€”Down in Paraguayâ€” chronicles an American's unhappy marriage to a local woman. The husband, discovering his wife's infidelity, considers murdering her and her lover, then gives up on the ideaâ€”only to be urged on by his young son, who cannot bear the dishonor of his â€”badâ€” mother. The murderous obsession of an unhappily wedded army sergeant with a young actor dominates â€”The Ballad of Tony Nail,â€” while â€”Mengele Dies Againâ€” portrays the Nazi physician's last days in Paraguay. â€”The Rape of Reasonâ€” is told from the perspective of Martin del Valle, a Bolivian intellectual from a prominent family who's raised in exile in the States but returns home to teach at the University of La Paz. Expelled from the university for his â€”reactionaryâ€” views, he becomes a journalist who's later threatened for opposing the government in his writing. The best piece here,â€”Marina in the Key of Blue Flat,â€” offers a portrait of a young housemaid who works for well-to-do Paraguayans and contrasts her own life with the privileges and fears of theirs. Sometimes unfocused and rambling, but, still, these sensitive insider's stories give a vivid glimpse of a country that may always come across as foreign.
Pub Date: Jan. 25, 1999
Page Count: 240
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999
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