Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Juan Eslava Galan: The Mule

Kristina Lindgren reviews Juan Eslava Galán's The Mule.
Ah, the romance of fighting for a cause. Remember the Spanish Civil War, that heroic conflict between leftists and fascists that so entranced the 1930s mass media and served as an opening act for the great European clash to come?

But as Spanish writer Juan Eslava Galán shows in his sly, Fellini-esque novel, "The Mule" (Bantam: 294 pp., $12 paper), war is a decidedly different experience for conscripts on the ground. Consider Juan Castro Pérez, a stable boy drafted by the Republican government to fight Generalissimo Francisco Franco and his nacionales. A year into the fighting, Castro switches sides and is pressed into service as a "muleteer," shuttling munitions and other supplies across rocky terrain to the ever-shifting front line.
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