Terra Nostra Is Not The Carlos Fuentes I Thought I Knew

Terra-nostra As far as I know Carlos Fuentes, he's a writer of realist, politically aware narratives that partake in a modernist ethic. True, he's clearly innovative when it comes to style, but in terms of narrative he decidedly keeps things in the camp of the real.

So, 30 pages into Terra Nostra the Louvre is transparent, the Seine is boiling, six-toed infants are being born. Now I understand why they call this book the last great success of the Latin American Boom. (And as you can see by the image to the left, I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of the edition with the ugliest cover in the history of the Boom.)

Admittedly, I'm only 30 pages into a book that's nearly 800 pages in length, but I'm kind of liking the magical realism edition of Carlos Fuentes. Definitely curious to see where he goes with this.

And while I'm writing about authors of a Fuentesian ilk, I might as well note that Season of Ash by Jorge Volpi sounds like my next great Latin American read. The back copy on this book bills it as Carlos Fuentes meets Richard Powers (and, indeed, the book comes packaged with a rave from the former). Thumbing through it, it kind of looks like one of those grand European narratives of historical unification . . . something along the lines of The Discovery of Heaven, or Omega Minor, with (dare I say it) a hint of Pynchon.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Fuentes’ List of Upcoming Mexican Writers At Paris's annual Book Salon, Carlos Fuentes presented a list of five upcoming Mexican writers. They are Jorge Volpi, Ignacio Padilla, Pedro Angel Palou, Cristina...
  2. Why Did Carlos Say It?: Las Batallas en El Desierto / The Battles in the Desert Video (This is the first in a recurring series that I am calling the Latin American Bookshelf. As my reading comes to be more and more...
  3. Fuentes’ First Novel El Pais is reporting on a commemorative   edition of Carlos Fuentes’ first novel, La región más transparente, (Where the Air Is Clear in English) published...
  4. New Edition of Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s “Cronicas” A Spanish-language collection of Mexican author Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s creative nonfiction has recently been published by what I believe is Spanish novelist Javier Marias’s press (Reino...
  5. New CONTEXT As noted by many blogs last week, there’s a new CONTEXT online. Of interest (among other things) is an interview with Eloy Urroz and an...

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I just started rereading The Discovery of Heaven, thinking “why isn’t there more with this much scope, facility, and fun?” The description of Season of Ash in the Open Letters catalog sounds awesome. Thanks for pointing it out, Scott!

It took me a while to figure out which one was Season of Ash. I’ve read it in Spanish and liked it, but it wasn’t a great read. A lot more closer to the latter Fuentes than Powers, and not a hint of Pynchon anywhere. Nonetheless it is a very enjoyable book.

Did all of the Gass inspire you to read Terra Nostra?

Matt,
In the case of Nostra I’ve had it for a while now & have long meant to read it, although it’s more than likely that earlier readings of Gass helped get me interested in Latin American fiction.

Just finished (and reviewed) Aura..my first Fuentes…Interesting but left me wishing for larger Sample Size… Those @ Fictional Woods that have read Terra Nostra loved it (not en toto though)

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