I laughed aloud in many places, and cried out in dismay in others. While it can be read as a stand-alone novel, the reader who has read the first book will have the background story that explains — if such supernatural elements can be explained — some of the more fantastical plot points and characters. Colorful phrases abound, and lend an air of fantasy and mysticism that just tickles my fancy. The story shifts perspective from chapter to chapter, sometimes leaving the reader feeling dizzy and disoriented.
But as is true of many novels of this genre, the reader who can suspend disbelief and just go along for the ride will find much to enjoy. Apr 09, Nimue Brown rated it really liked it. Beautifully written and amazingly vivid, this is a book that covers a great swathe of narrative, and human experience. Sometimes it made me laugh out loud.
One chapter prevented me from sleeping, and still haunts me. When de Berniers is playful, he is charming. When he plunges into the darkest aspects of human nature and behaviour, he is shocking. Through the contrasts, the dramatic shifts betwen light and dark, compassion and horror, he weaves a complex story.
There is romance, tragedy, magical Beautifully written and amazingly vivid, this is a book that covers a great swathe of narrative, and human experience. There is romance, tragedy, magical realism, comedy, and a fine story threading it all together. I've considered trying to write a plot summary, but I don't like doing spoilers. So, let's limit it to 20th Century, South American, and about the consequences for a man who is brave enough to try and fight injustice and barbarity.
Good people die, but ultimately this is a hopeful sort of tale. Feb 05, Darla rated it really liked it Shelves: magical-realism , spanish-latin-american , favorites , fiction-with-history.
MORE BY LOUIS DE BERNIÈRES
If they made a Hieronymous Bosch painting into a novel, and set it in South America, this might be the result. Could be the polar opposite of Downton Abbey or Pride and Prejudice. De Bernieres' signature 'combinatorial creativity' in his prose is present throughout this novel-- as is his reality-based satire. The characters are magical: Dionisio as the tragic hero figure who also happens to be a professor of 'secular philosophy'; Aurelio the indian, a master brujo who knows santeria and communi If they made a Hieronymous Bosch painting into a novel, and set it in South America, this might be the result.
The characters are magical: Dionisio as the tragic hero figure who also happens to be a professor of 'secular philosophy'; Aurelio the indian, a master brujo who knows santeria and communicates with his deceased daughter's ghost; and the country's President, a completely ineffectual imbecile who slowly becomes captivated by his own weird sexual alchemy experiments while his country spirals into further economic troubles.
De Bernieres uses words in such interesting combinations, with cultural and philosophical references thrown in, so that when you 'get it' -- you manage to figure it out -- it's like you are sharing an inside joke with the author.
Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord
You're never precisely sure if the meaning you took is the same one the author intended, but that's OK. That is sort of the point. Beware: In this novel, the coca-killing violence was at times difficult to read. Or perhaps I just reached the reality'-saturation point. But that should not deter you from reading this novel. There is so much fullness here, so much life - the violence, the joy, the passion and the craziness are enriching by his descriptions. At one point, Dionisio asks his love Anica to marry him not knowing that the coca lords have already threatened her and her family with certain death should she stay with Dionisio : "Anica was thrown into a maze from which there seemed to be no exit.
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She turned pale, and her lips trembled; she averted her eyes. With her eyes brimming she turned to him and said the only thing that seemed to her that it was possible to say: 'I want you to know that I could never marry anyone that I did not love. But Dionisio's mind, with its chronic literality of a linguistic philosopher and its masculine deafness to the unsaid, simply went numb and then computed the obvious implication that she was refusing him because she did not love him. Read it to find out the rest. Jun 09, Stephanie rated it it was amazing. Intelligent and brilliant writing as always. I should be used to laughing out loud one minute and feeling nauseated and shocked the next with his books but it still hits me hard when it happens.
His writing is brilliant and hilarious, yet at times outrageous and shocking. The shocking part in this novel was rather graphic I had to force myself through it and hope that I'd be laughing again in the next chapter. I was. I LOVE the magic realism in this trilogy. He does it so brilliantly. Second book in the trilogy though not very clearly stated - Read "The War on Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts" first to appreciate this novel. The had his usual wonderfully lyrical prose that somehow makes it easier to comprehend or accept the horrific violence that takes place throughout, although I didn't love this one as much as the first and last books in the trilogy.
I think that had more to do with the fact that I read the final one before this, being to anxious to keep reading as I waited for my copy of this to arrive in the mail, so much of the tragedy here seemed almost anti-climactic, and the ending seemed strangely rushed or The had his usual wonderfully lyrical prose that somehow makes it easier to comprehend or accept the horrific violence that takes place throughout, although I didn't love this one as much as the first and last books in the trilogy.
I think that had more to do with the fact that I read the final one before this, being to anxious to keep reading as I waited for my copy of this to arrive in the mail, so much of the tragedy here seemed almost anti-climactic, and the ending seemed strangely rushed or detached.
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I'd anticipated so much of Dionisio's amazing act of revenge but instead, it was presented as almost an afterthought, yet many other events which I won't detail to avoid spoilers go on in explicit detail to the point where I was skipping pages to get on with it. Again, that may be because of my already knowing largely what happens, so I'm giving this 4 stars for the beautiful writing and amazing characters. And one day, I will reread this trilogy in proper sequel and relive this magical world all over again. I would have given this book four stars had it not been for a couple of horrific chapters which made me so sick I scanned the rest.
Otherwise, an enjoyable read. Given this is set in an imaginary south american country it really brought home the struggle against the coca cartels with an interesting story and prose. Philosophy, distilled: "I do not want you to believe any of this because it is all crap, but it is crap in which the piles of our pseudo-European culture are embedded, so you had better understand it because no one who does not understand the history and taxonomy of crap will ever come to know the difference between crap and pseudo-crap and non-crap Feb 16, Philip Dickinson rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction.
I am definately in the minority in giving this a 2-star rating but I will stick to my guns. I like to learn new words so I didn't mind having to reach for the dictionary every second page and even used online translation for some of the Spanish words. I liked the way the sto I am definately in the minority in giving this a 2-star rating but I will stick to my guns. I liked the way the story blends the supernatural with the mundane and some of thee turns of phrase are wonderful and made me laugh out loud. Sadly though, the elborate descriptions began to grate.
Chapter 23 very nearly made me throw down the book in frustration because of it's utter incomprehensibility and irrelevance. The author plays loose with the timelines mixing past history with a recap on events that occur to individuals after the period that the book is set in. A number of characters appear to be included for frivolous amusement rather than because they contribute to the plot. There's a really lazy plot fixup that I can't reveal that allows the author to keep his hero and heroine together for a month after they should have been separated.
1st U.S. ed.
All of this leading up to a final showdown between the main protagonists that is a real damp squib. I can't recall reading a book that caused me such a mixute of delight, rage and frustration and disappointment all in one. Jul 01, Doris rated it really liked it Shelves: latin. I'll tell you what another Good Reads reviewer said concisely and with insight, which allows me to take a pass, have a cup of tea, and get on to my next book.
I hope I'm not breaking some rule by quoting them. I will say that I didn't like it as much as the first and last book in the trilogy, and contemplated 3 stars. But its wonderful language won me over. Sometimes it made me I'll tell you what another Good Reads reviewer said concisely and with insight, which allows me to take a pass, have a cup of tea, and get on to my next book.
Apr 01, Michelle O'flynn rated it it was amazing.
Senor Vivo & The Coca Lord
I really enjoyed this quite bizarre story. It reminded me somewhat of the style of Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in that the author captured the essence of the landscape and the people with vivid flavour and texture, and gave us a wonderful hero in Senor Vivo. The slightly paranormal experiences of the jungle cats and the ability of the natives in the mountains to astral travel and assume the identities of various deities is partly I suspect due to some hallucinogenic experiences I really enjoyed this quite bizarre story.
Either way, it all goes hand - in -hand anyway doesn't it? Dec 07, Brittany rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord began as an enthralling, funny, well-written book. Then it took a tragic turn, and became deep, philosophic, and thought-provoking. The best way to describe this, I think, is to say it's a lot like life: Funny, unpredictable, rich, harrowing, sweet, and sad.
But not depressing. It Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord began as an enthralling, funny, well-written book. It's everything a book should be. Nov 09, Tina rated it it was amazing Shelves: twenty-twelve , the-beast , round-table-reads. How do you review a book that is so hard to explain???
I can't. Unfortunately, I don't have the gift of putting my thoughts onto paper or finding the words needed to describe how I feel. I can only suggest that you read the review of this book on Goodreads by a girl named Madeline. Her review sums up everything I wish I could say. Their ignorance is comical, WOW Jan 01, Celine rated it really liked it.
I'm not sure why this one didn't satisfy me as much as the others? I consumed the book and I loved each section as I read it. I can't see why as there is equal violence meted out against both sexes and the women portrayed are as strong, kookie and magical as all the men Was it the fragmented nature of the narrative? Am giving this the usual four stars because I think ill health has affected my enjoyment rather than the book itself. Caricatures abound. But action drives the book across a pseudo-Columbia looking for the final confrontation. It happens but I won't talk about it.
Easy read. Apr 19, Helen rated it it was amazing. A huge and absorbing story that as with all the best magical realism, manages to be flippant and cynical yet deadly serious; hilarious yet horrifying; beautiful yet intensely tragic, leaving you with the feeling that your own life isn't quite as real as what you have just read. There are gorgeous lines like " Feb 26, dianne rated it liked it Shelves: other-south-america. Shelves: series , awesome , culture , fantasy , contemporary , grief-coming-of-age , magical-cats , crime.
The violence would really upset me these days. Indeed, there is one scene in this that still haunts me! But the magical realism is delightful as is the wonderful cast of characters. I love that Cochadebajo and those glorious big cats:- Wish I could read it again one day. Mar 07, Mirvan. Ereon rated it it was amazing. I so love this I am obsessed with the series! But I have to say that this is the one I do not love as much as the other two but very very interesting still. There are some parts which Bernieres sounded so much like Jorge Amado that it may be even plagiarism..
And there is a butchery scene there that you will never forget. A worthy read. Feb 18, muriel rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: anyone with guts. This book is serious It's an awsome book overloaded with a wierd mix of creative imagination and harsh reality. Read them all. May 30, Lucie Novak rated it it was amazing. SHort, imaginative, brilliant. Even better than Captain Corelli! Aug 18, Clare O'Beara rated it it was amazing Shelves: south-america-mexico , crime-fiction.
This is a read for adults only, set in South America in a small nation being dominated by the drug gangsters. The author was born in UK but lectured in South America for a few years, after which he wrote his books. Don Vivo is a lecturer who writes erudite letters to his local paper about how the coca trade is destroying the nation. For instance, the balance of trade is badly affected, because of every ten millon dollars of gain from selling coca, the drug lords lodge nine in a Swiss bank accoun This is a read for adults only, set in South America in a small nation being dominated by the drug gangsters.
For instance, the balance of trade is badly affected, because of every ten millon dollars of gain from selling coca, the drug lords lodge nine in a Swiss bank account and spend the rest on imported luxury goods. The police are few and poorly paid, also prone to being threatened by heavily armed drug gangs. Naturally many of them take bribes. And people paid with pesos to be labour, are then paid with coca derivatives and become slaves, quickly dying, while the women and children are abducted and raped. From his small but cosy home Don Vivo asks - twice - why it is that Spanish people who used to adore and respect nubile young women have turned to hating women.
While the professor builds a following his sweetheart becomes more in love with him and more concerned about his safety. Don Vivo has a staunch and incorruptible friend in the police force, to whom he reports the frequent dumping of mutilated bodies on his lawn. The tale does not get easier to read and there are scenes which show absolute depravity.
The author must have either found it difficult to write some of them, or dissociated somehow. Don Vivo's reactions show the reactions of a normal, right minded person. I only wished he had got moving sooner because good lives would have been spared. However the tale is a salutary lesson in why it is important to fight the horrible drugs trade and by the end we see signs of progress. The moral is, buy coffee not coca. We also get a look at the many forms of worship practised simultaneously, by the same people, a different belief for a different occasion.
Various cultures have different cures and festivals which are carried on, which slow down the tale at times but form a rich cultural backdrop. We also find the book alive with animals and plants in the verdant mountainous, jungly, coastal scenery. The author is packing in all his experiences and observations, so amid the casual brutality of a gold refining camp we find a leper, and in a village considered to be underwater by the maps we find semi-domesticated black jaguars.
There are touches of magical realism, in that a man is early told his daughter is a cat, or a person on the street is believed to have spent four hundred years dead under an avalanche before being revived, but these peter out in the full glare of the semi-miraculous, sometimes amusing escapes of Don Vivo from the gangsters, who, being peasants, become ever more superstitious.
The book is not an easy read, but full of detail and determination. Aug 06, Books HQ rated it it was amazing. Whereas the first focuses primarily on politics, this story is a scathing attack on the drug trade. The eponymous hero, Dionisio, is a philosophy professor who provokes the wrath of the cartels with his public letter writing campaign. Yet, when the drug lords send hit men to get rid of him they inexplicably fail every time. As a result, he acquires a wide following, with women trekking across the country in the hope of bearing his children.
Seemingly oblivious to his influence, and ignoring the pleas of his best friend Ramon and girlfriend Anica, Dionisio continues his campaign with some help along the way from some familiar faces from the first novel, including Aurelio, Don Emmanuel and the mysteriously tame jaguars. This results in some truly horrific and heartbreaking scenes, which, ten years after first reading this book, still stay with me to this day.
But they are not the only element. This is its greatest triumph. Just writing this has made me realise that I need to go off and read it again and I recommend you do too.
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Readers also enjoyed. Magical Realism. He joined the army at 18 but left after spending four months at Sandhurst. Before writing full-time, he held many varied jobs including landscape gardener, motorcycle messenger and car mechanic. In , he was selected as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists 2' promotion in Granta magazine. It was also shortlisted for the Sunday Express Book of the Year. Set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during the Second World War, the novel tells the story of a love affair between the daughter of a local doctor and an Italian soldier.
It has become a worldwide bestseller and has now been translated into over 30 languages. A film adaptation of the novel was released in , and the novel has also been adapted for the stage. In , Red Dog was published - a collection of stories inspired by a statue of a dog encountered on a trip to a writers' festival in Australia in The druglords, and the comic-opera national government, pay no attention until Vivo attracts great public support and becomes something of a cult figure. They ultimately will get to Vivo by destroying his great ladylove, Anica; but since Vivo and everyone else in the book has access to metamorphosis and magic, his revenge is sovereign and unanswerable.