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Acapulcalypse

Patrick Parrinder

23 November 1989
Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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Hollywood 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... reader) in an Indian, possibly an Aztec language. It is in the interests of multilingualism and heteroglossia, not of Mexican nationalism, that Aztec should be revived. For much the same reasons, the MacAdam and Fuentes English translation of this anarchic, carnivalesque novel contains some virtuoso coinages which it is hard to imagine in the original Spanish. Fuentes’s genealogy for the novel in fact ...
4 October 1984
Family Portrait with Fidel 
by Carlos Franqui, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Cape, 262 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 224 02268 7
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Infante’s Inferno 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Levine.
Faber, 410 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13292 8
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... Culture brings Freedom,’ José Marti once vaguely proclaimed. The attempt to make sense of this slogan during the Cuban revolution cost both these outstanding men – Franqui and Infante – their country. One of Fidel Castro’s closest comrades in the war against Batista, Carlos Franqui, came down with him from the Sierra as the bearded men took power; for the first five years after 1959 he ...

Closer to God

Adam Bradbury

14 May 1992
1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezon of Castile 
by Homero Aridjis, translated by Betty Ferber.
Deutsch, 284 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 233 98727 4
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The Campaign 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 246 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 233 98726 6
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The Penguin Book of Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Thomas Colchie.
Viking, 448 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 670 84299 0
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... Mexican literature will be great because it’s literature, not because it’s Mexican,’ yelled Angel in Carlos Fuentes’s magnificent dystopia, Christopher Unborn. We may be on dodgy ground, then, lumping together two Mexican novels – one about the South American uprising of 1810 and one about the expulsion of the Jews from Spain at the end of the 15th century – but for the fact that both ...

Superhistory

Patrick Parrinder

6 December 1990
Curfew 
by Jose Donoso, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Picador, 310 pp., £13.95, October 1990, 0 330 31157 3
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War Fever 
by J.G. Ballard.
Collins, 176 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 0 00 223770 9
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Great Climate 
by Michael Wilding.
Faber, 147 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14428 4
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Honour Thy Father 
by Lesley Glaister.
Secker, 182 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 9780436199981
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... All novels are historical novels, as my late teacher, Graham Hough, used to say; but some are more historical than others. Novelists can improve on history, and if they are Science Fiction writers they can anticipate it. History can be invented, but most novelists only do so within strict limits. According to Hough, they would tend to invent a Prime Minister but not a major political party, a provincial ...

Conversations with Myself

Michael Wood: Fernando Pessoa

19 July 2018
The Book of Disquiet 
by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Serpent’s Tail, 413 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78125 864 4
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... only claiming that small worlds help us to imagine large spaces. This first version of The Book of Disquiet was translated into English four times in one year: in 1991, by Margaret Jull Costa, AlfredMacAdam, Ian Watson and Richard Zenith. The last of these texts started out as The Book of Disquietude, but the longer word was soon dropped. As Jull Costa says, desassossego can be rendered as ...
21 October 1993
‘The Pit’ and ‘Tonight’ 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Peter Bush.
Quartet, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1991, 0 7043 2767 8
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The Shipyard 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Nick Caistor.
Serpent’s Tail, 186 pp., £8.99, February 1992, 1 85242 191 6
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‘Farewells’ and ‘A Grave with No Name’ 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Peter Bush.
Quartet, 136 pp., £12.95, March 1992, 0 7043 7015 8
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Body Snatcher 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Quartet, 305 pp., £13.95, October 1991, 9780704327979
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A Brief Life 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Hortense Carpentier.
Serpent’s Tail, 292 pp., £9.99, February 1993, 1 85242 301 3
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Cuando ya no importe 
by Juan Carlos Onetti.
Alfaguara, 205 pp., £10.95, March 1993, 84 204 8107 6
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... Juan Carlos Onetti, 84 years old and now a Spanish citizen, living in Madrid, is one of the most distinguished and most neglected of Latin American writers. He was born in Montevideo, but takes the idea of being an important Uruguayan author as something short of a compliment, even as a kind of joke. He hasn’t sought his neglect, but he has cultivated the neglect he found, made it part of his story ...
11 March 1993
Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It 
by Brett Millier.
California, 602 pp., £18.50, April 1993, 0 520 07978 7
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... could more truly say: ‘began to take her place in the congenial literary, liberal university’. Bishop had many devoted friends at Harvard (as Millier notes), ranging from Octavio Paz to William Alfred and Robert Fitzgerald, and in her writing courses found students whom she admired and liked, both male and female. She also found a new person to love, Alice Methfessel, the administrative assistant ...

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