MAKBARA by Juan Goytisolo


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Goytisolo (Juan the Landless, Count Julian) may be the most talented of Spanish novelists. Certainly he's the most febrile. And in his sink-in-order-to-swim way, his novels of the Spanish psyche often become incandescent objects. Now, however, he has abandoned the national unconscious for a leap into the universal one--with a long, recoiling dithyramb to the aboves and the belows of sex (with some tumid semi-pornography), plus a spoofing of collectivity and state ideology. A deformed, monstrous, huge-membered freak begins the book by stumbling blindly through the streets of Paris; the story ends in an Arab halca--marketplace--where everything is allowed and possible because nothing is quite openly acknowledged. And in between are such vagabondages as: a fantasy-government that promotes pre-digested food and suicide (Goytisolo has been reading his Burroughs); an extra-terrestrial turned into a woman; modern commercial bridal protocol; and, most audacious of all (as well as most blithely tangential)--a geographical tour of downtown Pittsburgh's (!) Golden Triangle as an exact model for the female reproductive anatomy. Inventive? Well, perhaps. But all this snaky, tracking modernism finally seems considerably less than the sum of its parts--with nothing tying things together except a general theme of celebration of the ""dirty."" You keep getting the feeling, in fact, that Goytisolo was waiting for his ring to close . . . and that it simply never happened; and, in Lane's heroic but probably all-too-faithful translation, this is an obscure, frenetic potpourri likely to disappoint most of Goytisolo's small, serious following.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1981
ISBN: 1564785068
Publisher: Seaver--dist. by Random House