March 28, 2011

Literary Pick (****)

The Feast of the Goat
-Mario Vargas Llosa

Luckily for me I was already familiar with Trujillo's reign of terror from previously reading "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. Perhaps that is how I became fascinated by Trujillo's tyrannical reputation as the president of The Dominican Republic. The stories about Trujillo are like the kafkaesque nightmares that most of us have experienced, about the fear of losing one's freedom, losing one's integrity and self-respect. Fears of being unable to escape that all too watchful omnipresent entity. Trujillo was a living devil, he took whatever he wanted and banished anyone who not only opposed his regime, but also those who even thought of opposing it. He was the absolute ultimate psychological oppressor. He was known to publicly humiliate high-ranking member officials of his own inner circle, in person and through the local newspaper, which was of course owned by the Trujillo family. If he wanted to have sex with someone's wife or daughter, there was not much a husband or father could do about it. If they resisted they would simply be sent to jail to be tortured and maimed by Johnny Abbes, head of the SIM, another ruthless heartless demon who worked for Trujillo. Trujillo was indeed a goat who consumed everything in his path. His demonic presence was so strong in the hearts of the Dominican people that even after his death citizens were still terrified of him, as if he would come back from the dead and punish all those who dared believe he was mortal.
The Feast of the Goat weaves the fictional story of the life of Urania Cabral and her father Agustin Cabral (president of the senate), with non-fictional events of the Trujillo era and regime. Each chapter is jammed packed with fascinating and unbelievable accounts of some of the events that occurred during this period, It's one of the best books I've read this year. However, I admit that one of the reasons I was able to enjoy it as much as I did is because I was already familiar with the history of the Trujillo era. This book could be overwhelming for someone who is not familiar with it, so It's really worth looking into before diving in. The only fault in the book is that Llosa tended to quickly switch from narrating, to story-telling, if that makes any sense at all.. So one has to pay close attention to who is speaking and what scene is taking place at any given moment. Other than that each and every chapter of the book was enthralling. I'm so tempted to give it 5 stars.



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