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Almost Never: A Novel Paperback – April 10, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; Original edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555976093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555976095
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Almost Never:
 
"What is so daring here? It's not Sada's depiction of the Madonna-whore complex, nor his take on the delusions of a Mexican macho--although both make for delicious burlesque. What's new is the voice, and Sada's glorious style. . . . It's impossible not to be swept along by Sada's manic language, his Cervantean plot twists and his affection for the hero who shares his initials." —Rachel Nolan, The New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
 
"Daniel Sada will be remembered in Mexico as a literary titan of his time, one of the most innovative novelists in contemporary Latin American letters. His books stand in startling contrast to the persona: They are a whirling riot of color, a wild cacophony of voices, an extravagant display of pyrotechnical prose." —The Washington Post
 
"The first English translation of Daniel Sada, Almost Never, is a bright introduction of this Spanish star who brings humor and unmatched style to the ordinary." —The Rumpus
 
"As in the plays of Lope de Vega, an intricate code of honor shapes [Almost Never's] plot, and, as much as Luis de Gongora, Sada revels in the labyrinths of preposterously convoluted prose. . . . Demetrio's courtship of Renata is played out as Mexican kabuki that makes a mockery of Puritanism, machismo and marriage." —The Dallas Morning News
 
"Sada creates a fascinatingly eccentric cast of characters and manipulates them with skill." —Publishers Weekly
 
"Sada writes lustily and with comic brio about Demetrio's dilemma." —Kirkus Reviews
 

About the Author

Daniel Sada was born in Mexicali, Mexico, in 1953, and died on November 18, 2011, in Mexico City. Considered by many as the boldest and most innovative writer in Spanish of his generation, he has published eight volumes of short stories, nine novels, and at least three volumes of poetry. His works have been translated into English, German, French, Dutch, Finnish, Bulgarian, and Portuguese. He has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Herralde Prize for his novel Almost Never. Just hours before he died, he was awarded Mexico's most prestigious literary award, the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Much admired by both Roberto Bolano and Carlos Fuentes, Mexican author Daniel Sada has now been published in English for the first time by Graywolf Press. Almost Never, "a Rabelaisian tale of lust and longing," provides a bawdy and mildly satiric look at the whole concept of machismo as it exists in the mid-1940s in Mexico. Sada's main character, Demetrio Sordo, almost thirty when the novel opens in 1945, grew up in Parras, in northern Mexico, but he has recently been living in southern Mexico, working as an agronomist at a large ranch. Bored by the usual nightly "entertainments" of "dominoes in seedy dives," he finally concludes that "sex was the most obvious option." Taking a taxi to a local brothel, he meets the beautiful brunette Mireya, revealing his personal "charm" by introducing himself to her with "Hey, you, come on already, let's go."

Demetrio's eye-opening relationship with Mireya, graphically described, continues to become more and more adventuresome. The visits to her come to a temporary stop, however, when Demetrio receives a letter from his mother in Parras, asking him to come home at Christmas for a wedding. There he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful Renata, so closely tied to the local cult of virginity that when he mistakenly uses the pronoun "tu," she is shocked by his "familiarity." Upon his return to the Oaxaca area, Demetrio discovers that Mireya now wants more - marriage. With one woman who will do anything for him, and another woman who plays the ultimate "hard-to-get" role, Demetrio faces a rare set of challenges, determined to get what he wants from both.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Anne Calabia on May 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
Like most ambitious literary novels, "Almost Never" is preoccupied with sex. Indeed, it begins with a discussion of sex and ends along similar lines. Between the first and last pages, however, the narrative meanders like a wily serpent and begs for the reader's total concentration.

The story revolves around an educated farm manager named Demetrio. Bored with his job and life in general, one day he visits a bordello where he meets a beautiful prostitute named Mireya. Despite his daily trysts with her, Demetrio remains unsatisfied. This discontent grows when Demetrio meets a proper young lady named Renata from a faraway town and becomes smitten with her, too.

Ignorant of each other's existence and their own madonna-whore dichotomy, both women scheme to ensnare the young man into matrimony. A chorus line of meddlesome aunts, mothers, and busybodies complicate the situation each step of the way.

Why they want him is difficult to understand. Demetrio is a maddening creature to follow. Macho and unsympathetic, he vacillates between his desires and drifts from one bad decision to the next, all the while hiding his true nature from the women who love him.

"Almost Never" provides an amazing glimpse into Mexican life in the 1940s. This wonderful English translation encapsulates middle-class Catholic hypocrisies and exposes the seedy side of provincial life. While it's not a novel recommended for readers with short attention spans, it's definitely catnip for literature majors who want to get their panties in a twist.

(This review first appeared in the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Lane on August 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sadly this is the only novel available in English. Sada is a major novelist, easily the equal of Proust, Musil, Kundera, Faulkner. What does it take to get the attention of major American publishers? Certainly not great writing or trenchant observation of the universal human condition.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Liviu C. Suciu on May 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was a little disappointing after the gushing reviews everywhere; a fast novel and an easy read that flows well, but not about too much (see the blurb which is accurate) and with nothing to really remember from it. Maybe if you are a fan of Mexican culture the book will have more meaning for you, but while I turned the pages and enjoyed the reasonably funny prose so I would not say I wasted my time with the book, at the end I was left with "this is it??"

It seems the author's fame is based on a more complex novel and let's hope it will get translated as i do not feel like the effort needed for my relatively rudimentary Spanish to go through it is worth based on this one
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Selby on May 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
About forty pages into this 300-plus page novel, I found myself thinking "Rabbit!" Updike! The Mexican Rabbit--that is Demetrio! And I found myself wishing that I were fluent in Spanish so I could read this in its original, mainly because I found myself, a rather rapid reader, going thirty miles an hour instead of sixty because of the unique syntax as well as the unique use of punctuation. I have never read a piece of fiction in which the colon (:) is used as often as five or six times in a sentence and often one word after another. However, once I dealt with that, I found myself unwilling to put this book down.
Set in the mid-40s in Mexico, the protagonist, an only son with married sisters in the United States and a mother wishing he could find himself a wonderful wife, is an agronomist working for a large farmer in Oaxaca doing what, at the time, would be called "the books." And he is totally obsessed with sex. Yes, totally. There are two brothels available. He selects one--there's a fee to be admitted--and becomes totally obsessed with Rolanda, insisting that she is the only prostitute with whom he will have sex, paying extra to do so daily--except for the day of "rest" for her, Mondays--because the madam, a shrewd and not-very-friendly being, says he should not be picking only one, that she has plenty of others to purchase. But she is willing to let Demetrio have Mireya exclusively for an additional fee. Of course now he has to deal with asking his boss for a raise.
And then comes a letter from his mother--hundreds of miles away--telling him she must accompany him to a wedding in the northern part of the country. And, of course, there he meets the very proper Renata. They dance a waltz. Depart. (Maybe I should do this with colons.
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