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Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

Author(s): H. Ernest Lewald
Review by: H. Ernest Lewald
Source: Books Abroad, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Winter, 1964), p. 57
Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40118446
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^ Tomas Mojarro. Bramadero. Mexico. Fondo de Cultura Economica. 1963. 221 pages.

America hay un monstruo que se come el cora-

stories, this Mexican author has come out with

a forceful novel. The plot, setting, and characters are traditional and Mexican enough: a
provincial town in Zacatecas at the time of the
struggle between the cristeros and the govern-

"face of the monster," through her work she

met poor immigrants whose fear, anxieties,
and despair saddened even more her already
sad life: Rafael, the hunchbacked Italian boy,
who was able to join his family only because
Nora volunteered to falsify his documents;

After having published a volume of short

ment officials. The revelation of violence, graft,

lust, and greed was to be expected; but the

absence of any idealistic or humanistic thought

or symbol throughout the work leaves the

reader with a sense of hopelessness. Not only
the brutalized peasantry and the fanatic cristeros are victimized in prison; the whole town
is condemned to exist in a bramadero whose

center of vitality is a newly-installed bawdy

house. The almost obligatory naturalistic style

has, however, been riddled with metaphoric

fireworks that rely on Mexicanisms to the extent of presenting a challenge. Yet, the pathos
of this Mexican quandary in miniature is compelling because it rings true.
H. Ernest Lewald

Carleton College

* Syria Poletti. Gente conmigo, Buenos

Aires. Losada. 1962. 198 pages.

To this first novel by Syria Poletti, a postWorld War II immigrant to Argentina from

Italy, was awarded the Third Losada Prize.

Already known to the literary public of Span-

ish America because of her publications in

periodicals, with Gente conmigo the author
makes a significant - and original - contribution to the Argentinean novel. Written with
vis dramatica, psychological skill, and brilliant
style, it presents a true-to-life picture of the de-

zon de los hijos." Later in Buenos Aires,

where she immigrated in order to see the

Croatti, another Italian who assumed the identity of Prince Zedir, an Arab pianist, in order
to succeed more easily as a musician; and sev-

eral others, especially Renato, who betrayed

Nora's love.

This novel, which at first glance seems to

be only the story of the lamentable conditions

of the immigrants, actually contains a very

clear appeal against the injustices of the laws
which do not allow the immigration of persons with physical defects, thus separating
children from their parents, wives from their

husbands: "jPor que las leyes estan contra

los pobres?" The statement "los oficios son de

Dios" takes on, therefore, an important meaning in the novel. Nora felt the necessity of
helping the immigrants, and for this reason
and not for a mercenary purpose, she falsified

some documents.

Vivid descriptions, colorful comparisons, enticing dialogues, together with a style which
the writer herself defines: "La compulsion interior hecha palabras," give throughout an
efficacious strength to the novel's social message; a message which becomes more impressive when we realize that Gente conmigo was
written by an immigrant who herself had a
tormented life and who feels the right to con-

demn and even to insult the country she

plorable and humiliating conditions of the

adopted for her own. As Nora says: "Este pais

Nora Candiani, the protagonist in the novel,

como dejarme matar por el."

is in prison, in Argentina, accused of having

falsified official documents. (Her "oficio" was

to write letters for the illiterate and to translate

documents for the State.) In her oppressive

solitude, she relives the history of her frustrated life as a child in a poor northern Italian
village and of her life in Buenos Aires. The
avalanche of the resulting hallucinating memories is gratifying to her because, as she says,
"Necesito volver junto a los que viven. Y yo
siempre necesite gente conmigo."
For Nora her native village was "un campo
de concentracion para el exodo." She remembers the letters she wrote for the illiterate of
her town. To her they contained: "mas sangre
que tinta, mas silencios que palabras." Hence,
Argentina at that time appeared to her as a
"monstruo." Her poor people used to say: "En

es tan mio que lo mismo podria injuriarlo

Michael Ricciardelli

Portland state College

^ Gonzalo Torrente Malvido. H ombres varados. Barcelona. Destine 1963. 231 pages.
80 ptas.
This is the first novel of the twenty-eight year
old son of the well-known critic and novelist
Gonzalo Torrente Ballester.

The theme can hardly be called original,

but the story is well written and convincing.
A young would-be writer tries to smother his
frustrations with alcohol and sex, degenerates
into a petty thief, with a decided preference
for his mistresses as victims, and, after a successful blackmail provided by an incestuous
situation he stumbles upon, leaves the island

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