A charming title fronts Wintner’s latest (Lonely Hearts, Changing Worlds, 2001; etc.), but the same frenzied philosophizing and style-jiving that hurt his previous work envelops this saucy tale of a distinctive pair of brothers at a seaside resort in Mexico.
Antonio Garza is a young man of abdominal means, a captain of poolside entertainment whose spectacular physique creates a demand among the gringas for his services after hours. He imagines a bright future for himself but is also acutely aware of his responsibilities in the present. His younger brother Baldo is a simple-minded but strapping mute, a protector of animals (like the toucan he saved as a fledgling) whose work now involves lopping the heads off coconuts with a machete, thereby transforming them into fancy drinks for the guests. Antonio watches over him, but one day when Baldo spots a fisherman cruelly butchering non-game fish and lops off the man’s face before he can say “Jesu Cristo,” Antonio is looking at some serious damage control. He takes the heat when the police arrive to investigate and take him in for questioning (a process partly involving a car battery and his testicles), but before his goose is cooked rescue arrives in the form of Mrs. Mayfair, the well-endowed and smitten recipient of Antonio’s intimate favors. With the help of her husband’s lawyer, she springs him and opens the door to the future he’s only dreamed of. But while he is thus engaged, Baldo, now in charge of a batch of endangered baby sea turtles the resort ministers to as a p.r. gimmick, gets Antonio’s girlfriend pregnant—which precipitates a lot of hand-wringing and soul-searching on the part of everyone involved.
Wild and lively escapades, to be sure, but only the toucan (all but invisible in the plot) avoids the general clamor and excess the rest of the novel succumbs to.