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Book 11: Mexico (Spanish) La Muerte de Artemio Cruz = The Death of Artemio Cruz (Carlos FUENTES)

 

I wake up… I am woken by the contact of that cold object with my member. I didn’t know that sometimes it is possible to urinate involuntarily. I keep my eyes closed. The closest voices go unheard. If I open my eyes, will I be able to hear them?

A fairly depressing chronicle of a rather distasteful Mexican big man on his death bed, recalling (in flashbacks) episodes of his life which gradually reveal how he came to be as his is. He started as an idealistic young man during the Mexican Revolution but becomes a hateful, corrupt, moralless and rich hypocrite and traitor (on several levels). Not a sympathetic hero! It also gives rather profound insight into how Mexico became what it is today. Cruz’s deterioration from a hopeful beginning could be seen as a critique of Mexico itself. The novel is, unusually, written in three voices (first, second and third person playing tag with each other) with increasing distance from the dying man. The Spanish was fairly difficult for me to read, especially the stream-of-consciousness style of Cruz’s first person narratives. It is a brilliantly constructed work, but I didn’t fall in love with it as with his novella Aura.
For an easier Mexican read – try Like Water for Chocolate (by Laura ESQUIVEL), a magical realist novel with the bonus of lots of recipes – a lovely book.
FUENTES, Carlos (1928-2012), La Muerte de Artemio Cruz, México, Alfaguara Bolsillo, 2000, ISBN 968-19-0695-0

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