A BAD END by Fernando Royuela


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A Spanish dwarf recounts his life and times even as they're coming to an end.

“I’ve known an endless string of bastards in my lifetime and not wished a single one a bad end.” So begins this neo-baroque saga as the dwarf Gregorio, aka Goyito, addresses the reader directly, narrating his life from a brutal childhood as the son of a whore to his prosperity in his elderly years. It’s a rambling and gritty tale underpinned by Gregorio's arch sense of humor and the profane poetry of his language. His childhood is marked by the death of his brother and endless abuse based on his appearance. After his mother dies, our hero joins the circus, where his lush voice describes the garish theatricality of the scene while showing how his survivor's mentality is forged out of adversity. Driven out after decades in service as a clown, he makes his way to Madrid in the early 1970s, as revolution and violence fill the air. At the bidding of his only friend, a one-eyed beggar, he becomes embedded with communist revolutionaries. As time goes on, he not only informs on them, but ultimately betrays their leader in a sinister reversal, taking everything she has at the end of her life. This is a vastly entertaining tale told by a remarkably resilient raconteur. Gregorio believes in fate the way some people believe in God, and while he believes his own path is set, it doesn’t disrupt the drama and tension of the tale. “Everything is written in the ineffable book of destiny, my life’s a closed chapter, and it’s your job to bring it to an end,” he proclaims. “The most hurtful violence that can be inflicted on a human being is the revelation of his lack of freedom, the predictability of his behavior, the exact outcome of his acts, even the exact date of his death. You have come here to amuse yourself with mine.”

A gonzo record of a large life.

Pub Date: May 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-84-943658-9-8
Page count: 374pp
Publisher: Hispabooks
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016


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