Friday, December 5, 2008

Review of Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes

Terra Nostra (Latin American Literature Series) Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Terra Nostra has the most profound opening paragraph of any book this side of The Bible:

Incredible the animal that first dreamed of another animal. Monstrous the first vertebrate that succeeded in standing on two feet and thus spread terror among the beasts still normally and happily crawling close to the ground through the slime of creation. Astounding the first telephone call, the first boiling water, the first song, the first loincloth.

and then shortly after there, Fuentes lost me. Or, rather, I got lost. This is a huge cosmic book of dense interwoven prose with at least one line as good as the opening paragraph tucked in the folds of each of its 700+ pages. I wish I had the time to sit at it like an eager undergrad, newly acclimated to putting a highlighter to a weathered copy weighing down my backpack, extracting things-to-quote from its thicket, desecrating a weathered copy with my love and devotion, chuckling to myself openly and brazenly about "Fuentes", forlornly wishing there was that one someone with whom to share that one line I'd found that day, and if that person found the line as profound as I, we would be soulmates.

I am not that eager undergrad anymore, and I know the bonds of a good line are short-lived in the the actual terra nostra. The actual terra nostra is filled to capacity with good lines, spilling over the edge, likely forming the Abyss we furtively skirt with their radiating heat. And I have a soulmate who has her own well-sharpened sense of literature. And I don't have the time nor really the inclination to clear my calendar to make the time that this book deserves. So I will put this one aside, kidding myself to think I am richer for having spend a quick weekend in Fuentes' world, and nurse daydreams that I will one day return for a longer visit.

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