THE HOUSE OF ALARCON by Joseph Dispenza


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Fifty, childless, married to the mad, masturbatory Carmela, Don Juan Mateo Alarcon is threatened by the possibility that he may be the last of his clan, the last to own the great hacienda in New Mexico that has been his family's since the Conquistadors--and which each generation has been bound and pledged to provide an heir for. So it's natural that he lavishes all his pent-up father-feeling on young Chandler Kendrick, an Anglo foreman deeply simpatico with Don Juan. But Chandler's brother Wallace, agent for a Houston real-estate cabal, has other ideas and intends to use Chandler in their service. As Dispenza's first novel builds stutteringly to its denouement--with a clumsily large number of foreshadowings along the way--we get zoom-lens historical accounts of the bad-luck Alarcons: flashbacks beginning with the 1400s (most of which seem to occur whenever anyone is about to indulge in some hanky-panky). This historical material is basically sound when Dispenza isn't swaddling it in rhetorical bunting and peekaboo plotting. But coarse development is the problem here; the book doesn't seem to have a firmly made-up mind whether to be saga or allegory or thriller. Indecisive, but definitely turgid.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan