One of the best-known works by one of Venezuela's leading novelists, this novel, translated into English for the first time, depicts the eccentricities of rural life through the innocent eyes of a small boy. Lame Marinferinfero, a man who castrates goats for a living, invites a little boy to accompany him over the rooftops of Altagracia, a small provincial town near the Venezuelan savannah. Hopping lithely on his crutches from one roof to the next, the man drags the boy on a fantastical journey, not only to explore other perspectives of the peaceful family environment where his childhood took place, but also to discover the new horizons that can be glimpsed from the heights.
Populated by a variety of colorful characters, Altagracia is transmuted into a bizarre and wonderful mixture of imagination and reality, of past and present, of nostalgia and of a striving to fulfill the hopes and ideals of youth. Garmendia's luminous prose reflects the wonder of this world, but it is a world that becomes increasingly harsh as childhood slips by.
Colorful characterizations and haunting anthropomorphic imagery are the distinguishing features of this enticing 1973 novel from one of Venezuela's best-known writers. In an initially disturbing inversion of Christ's temptation on the mountaintop by Satan, a sheltered little boy named Salvador (who is, transparently, the author) is taken in tow by a crippled goatherd, Marinferinfero (!), who shows him the complex topography and human variety of the town (fictional Altagracia) whose raucous plenitude quickly ensnares the boy's imagination. It's undoubtedly an allegory of the artist's need to comprehend, then move beyond, his origins. But Garmendia fills the story with such a volatile mix of comic eccentricity (a trio of mad spinsters and a bicycle-riding "spiritualist" are typical) and intimations of sexual and other dangers that Salvador's "education" becomes a stunning Dantesque journey from innocence through experience. Here's hoping more of Garmendia's fiction makes its way into English translation soon. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: UNESCO collection of representative works
Number Of Pages: 160
Published: 1st September 1998
Publisher: Peter Owen Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.2 x 14.3
Weight (kg): 0.47