THE ALIEN by Edwin Rosskam


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The central device in this novel is wonderfully promising -- that an elderly American bum has found near-absolute freedom in Puerto Rico as an alien white man in a mean slum named Little Mud. Not only that, he is a trash collector of sorts and articulate hater of modernism and progress. In the/middle Thirties Emil Bluemelein came to Puerto Rico with his wife as a U.S. civil servant. The assassination of a police chief, and a savagely quelled uprising, disaffect him from authority and drill him with love of the people and the land. He takes a small inheritance and buys a farm, but eventually the lowlife is too much for his wife and she leaves him. He proves a poor farmer and we find him today as a ronogade American building some huge trash abstraction in his slum hut's yard. Only slowly have the people accepted him. The climax of his trash mania comes when he boys a broken-down merry-go-round and installs it in his yard as a kind of super clock. However, he has insulted a Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent, who brings his gang. They beat him up and destroy his merry-go-round clock. While Bluemelein has the right radical attitude toward slum life, and often speaks pointedly, the author often sprays the interior monologues with pseudopoetic rhetoric and the plot has an uncertain stance. It's lively, though.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1964
Publisher: Crossman