Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aura (1965) by Carlos Fuentes


This somewhat famous novella by Carlos Fuentes made enough impression on the literary world to be translated into English, published in a very slim separate edition, reprinted in a dual-language version, and to elicit from the author an explanatory essay on its creation. To this reader, it is an unreadable mess of unbearably florid, purple language bogged down with junk metaphors, pretentiously monotonous prose rhythm and the unnecessary gimmick of narrating the whole in the second person singular. It is one of those books which make me wonder if their admirers hail from some other planet where different criteria of literary taste hold sway. As for the story, it is about a young historian hired to edit the memoirs of a long-dead general by his decrepit, dying widow who lives with a young niece whose eyes "are sea green and... surge, break to foam, grow calm again, then surge again like a wave". Given that this comes under the grotesquely overrated label of 'magical realism', you've probably already guessed the ending. It's a bit like an Aickman story gone horribly wrong.

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