THE TROUBLESOME OFFSPRING OF CARDINAL GUZMAN by Louis de Bernières

THE TROUBLESOME OFFSPRING OF CARDINAL GUZMAN

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Once again, de Berniäres turns magic realism into a literary Latin American theme park where the familiar attractions-- levitating villagers, centuries-old wanderers, protean plants and animals--appear with nothing new or original added. Mythic hero Dionisio Vivo--fighter of druglords in Se§or Viva and the Coca Lord--is now living in the remote Andean village of Cochadebajo. Vivo, the father of 30 children, though he still mourns his beloved, long-dead Anica, is a national columnist--the country's conscience--as well as one of the defenders of the village against the assault by bloodthirsty religious fanatics bent on rooting out heresy. Plot, though, is secondary--it's here only to provide successive set-pieces in which various characters can display their larger-than-life vices, virtues, and talents: ailing Cardinal Guzman is haunted by the demons of his corruptions, torments that are cured only by surgery--his tumor turns out to be an unborn twin--and his decision to leave the church and do good with his longtime mistress and their dead son, Christobal, reborn as a humming bird. Also included: a Mexican musicologist married to twins Lena and Ena; the ghost of Thomas Aquinas, who, appalled by the fanatical priests' sincerity, wishes he'd never written; Professor Luis, whose inventions save the village from destruction; conquistadors in rusting armor; a false priest who levitates and quotes salacious classics; jungle cats that eat strawberries and chocolates; a corrupt, sexually obsessed national-president; an ancient, starving, Quixote-like knight in search of ``the beast'' he must kill. And the grand climax, the battle that defeats the crusading fanatics, is undercut by a frenetic display of ambitious but old-hat literary virtuosity. Faux fiction that fails because--not in spite of--the writer's best efforts.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-12583-2
Page count: 388pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993




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