Friday, February 10, 2006

Tarzan's Tonsillitis by Alfredo Bryce Echenique

Review if Alfredo Bryce Echenique's Tarzan's Tonsillitis

In 1970, the Peruvian novelist Alfredo Bryce Echenique published a fictionalized portrait of his Lima childhood. Richly detailed and full of subtle scorn for his country's ruling class, "A World for Julius" is an exile's novel. It could only have been written in a seat of alienation like Paris, where the author lived and taught in the 1960's and 70's.

"Tarzan's Tonsillitis," Bryce Echenique's 14th published work, is something rather different -- an expatriate's novel, a rueful retrospective tribute to the heroic survivors of decades of rebellions and coups and dirty wars. The encomium takes the graceful form of a love story between a hyperarticulate Peruvian singer and composer, leading a charmed life in Europe, and the beautiful Salvadoran woman he worships from afar.

The star-crossed lovers meet in Paris in 1967, when Latin liberation movements and Latin ''boom'' novelists are all the rage. Fernanda María de la Trinidad del Monte Montes, a beautiful red-haired, green-eyed daughter of the oligarchy, arrives in town to occupy a sinecure at Unesco. She has an Alfa Romeo and great connections. Her exclusive Swiss finishing school has even taught her the correct posture to assume while hailing a taxi. Juan Manuel Carpio, the grandson of Quechua-speaking Indians, is at the beginning of his career, performing in the Métro with a Che Guevara poster as a backdrop to increase his tips. This unlikely couple fall in love, quarrel and separate, knowing right away that they have missed their great opportunity.

You can find the full review here

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