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Destiny and Desire: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Carlos Fuentes , Edith Grossman
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.84
Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

Winner of the Cervantes Prize
Carlos Fuentes, one of the world’s most acclaimed authors, is at the height of his powers in this stunning new novel—a magnificent epic of passion, magic, and desire in modern Mexico, a rich and remarkable tapestry set in a world where free will fights with the wishes of the gods.

Josué Nadal has lost more than his innocence: He has been robbed of his life—and his posthumous narration sets the tone for a brilliantly written novel that blends mysticism and realism. Josué tells of his fateful meeting as a skinny, awkward teen with Jericó, the vigorous boy who will become his twin, his best friend, and his shadow. Both orphans, the two young men intend to spend their lives in intellectual pursuit—until they enter an adult landscape of sex, crime, and ambition that will test their pledge and alter their lives forever.

Idealistic Josué goes to work for a high-tech visionary whose stunning assistant will introduce him to a life of desire; cynical Jericó is enlisted by the Mexican president in a scheme to sell happiness to the impoverished masses. On his journey into a web of illegality in which he will be estranged from Jericó, Josué is aided and impeded by a cast of unforgettable characters: a mad, imprisoned murderer with a warning of revenge, an elegant aviatrix and addict seeking to be saved, a prostitute shared by both men who may have murdered her way into a brilliant marriage, and the prophet Ezekiel himself.

Mixing ancient mythologies with the sensuousness and avarice and need of the twenty-first century, Destiny and Desire is a monumental achievement from one of the masters of contemporary literature.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The decapitated head of Josué Nadal, washed up on the shore of the Mexican Pacific, narrates this "manuscript of salt and foam," the cacophonous latest from Fuentes (The Old Gringo). As Josué's brain oozes onto the sand, he considers the political history of his country and the ill-fated relationships that led to his death. He recalls a lamentable childhood salvaged by Jericó, an enigmatic fellow student whose circumstances seem uncannily similar to his own and who rescues him from the bullies at school. Their friendship is powerful and lifelong, eventually split by the pursuit of power and ambition: Jericó's increasingly sinister designs are disguised by his work for the Mexican president while Josué studies law under Antonio Sanginés, who has a secret interest in the young men's entangled fates. When presidential and business interests collide, Jericó and Josué face each other from opposite sides of the conflict. Fuentes offers up a positively unruly contemplation of Mexico's history and future, frequently interrupted by digressions that are often philosophical, political, slapstick, or raunchy, but always provocative. (Jan.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Destiny and Desire is a postmodern telling of a classic tale of friendship and betrayal between two men set in modern Mexico City. Critics agreed that Fuentes is impressive in his mastery not only of Mexican politics and history but also in his knowledge of philosophy and literary devices. Josué and Jericó are incarnations of Castor and Pollux, or perhaps Cain and Abel, and the novel discusses everything from St. Augustine to Justin Timberlake. Fuentes’ digressions constitute a fine display of his breadth of knowledge and skill, but in their fantastical, symbolic richness, they both add and detract from his work. “A certain coherence is lost in the collision of literary effects,” notes the Wall Street Journal. Despite its excesses and length, Destiny and Desire left critics, in the end, quite awed.

Product Details

  • File Size: 865 KB
  • Print Length: 433 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400068800
  • Publisher: Random House (January 4, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43FAM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,275 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inheritance January 24, 2011
How do I review a book that I admired greatly but did not really enjoy? The best I can do is describe it objectively, so that readers more tuned in to Fuentes than I am may make up their own minds. Certainly, from the very first paragraph, when a head recently severed from its body begins the long narration of how it got to be that way, I could recognize Fuentes' sheer originality. And his mastery of words. So much did I enjoy the easy brilliance of Edith Grossman's translation that I got hold of the first fifteen pages of the book in Spanish for comparison; the original is perhaps more liquid, but Grossman beautifully captures its unpredictable rhythms, its shifts of tone. Fuentes is a Mexican Salman Rushdie, whom one almost reads for the brilliance of his imagery and breadth of erudition alone. Like Rushdie, he is impossible to skim, though I admit there were times in this long book when I was tempted to do so.

The severed head belongs to 27-year-old Josué Nadal. He begins his story in high school where he is befriended by a slightly older boy known only as Jericó (many names in the book have symbolic overtones). Both are effectively orphans: Jericó lives alone, and Josué is cared for by a disapproving housekeeper. The two bond closely, move in together, and set themselves an intellectual program to study all sides of every possible argument, reading Saint Augustine side-by-side with Nietzsche, studying Machiavelli. They also experience less intellectual pursuits, such as sharing the same whore. Brothers in spirit, they are also potential rivals. By entitling the first and last of the book's four main sections "Castor and Pollux" and "Cain and Abel," Fuentes appears to show his hand, but the truth is not so obvious.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
or escapist reading, not an easy reading exotic grand soap opera. It is a very witty, critical, and ambitious novel. I am shocked at the superficial reviews I am reading of this book, I've only started it but it is already engaged me, and impressed me with its humor, wit, and elaboration of mythical and curent characters and ideas. I am reading it in spanish so in all fairness the translation maybe horrible. In spanish is is beautifully and skilfully told. For the record, I would only give 5 stars to Borges short stories or Jems Joyce Ulysses, so for is tops for a recent release. The main characters are physicaly and metaphoricaly described very clearly and gracefully in the first 25 pages (unlike a 'reviewer's' claim below). True in the latin american avante garde tradition (which has been in dialogue with the best of Europe's intellectual ideas for nearly a century) there is an intention to make the act of reading a radical act in itself, (as opposed to reading about it) and that will weed out those looking for romantic stories in exotic settings. So if you like Bolano, Vargas Llosa, Garcia Marquez and Donoso, you will feel right at home here. If you dislike James Joyce's Ulisses for it's 'digessions' this novel will only be a little bit better. The metaphorical and the metaphysical are put on the table right from the start- the narrator is a severed head. The severed head describes it's relation to the missing body, and the mind-body split harks back at the critique of modern 'cartesian' philosophy. The main chracters names Joshua and Jericho are precisely tied back to biblical scenes in the first few dozen pages. If these references are interesting to you in the make up of main characters then you are on for a quality reading experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voice from the abyss September 21, 2012
The story begins with Josue's severed head beginning a narration along the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Guerrero, Mexico. If that isn't odd enough, the head of Josue will tell his life story and his encounters that got him to this point, where he states and asks" I was a body. I had a body. Will I be a soul"? This in itself is intriguing enough but if you are familiar with the dazzling works of the late great,(11/11/28-5/15/12), Carlos Fuentes (RIP/QEPD), than you know you are in for something special. On different occasions Senor Fuentes has taken the liberty to narrate from a unique perspective as in Christopher Unborn, Christopher Unborn (Latin American Literature Series), where the unborn Christopher narrates his observations on the world he will be born into in Makesicko as it celebrates it's 500th anniversary of the European collision with the new world. Senor Fuentes always one with radical ideas, that often coincide with his political ideas, tells a grand story of complex, intertwined characters, interrelated and as we find out, related in some circumstances, very rich characters, most notably Jerico,who he meets in class is we come to find out more than just a friendly brother. As the tale unfolds , the exploits of Josue and Jerico, two peas in a pod as youths, Cain and Abel if you will, have many things in common, including but not limited to, intellectual and metaphysical persuits, sex, family, friends, enemies and yes, destiny and desire. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars deep story with a ton of insight on destiny and desire
one of the best boks i have read in a long time. not the same old light fluff one gets in most novels toady. a very good read. i ighly reccomend.
Published 19 months ago by Jonathan O. Matteson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best
Not one of his better efforts. Starts great, with a decapitated head telling its life story...but the characters, narrative, and insights do not live up to the opening. Read more
Published 19 months ago by David S. Wellhauser
4.0 out of 5 stars CAUGHT IN ITS WEB
After I read the first section, I didn't think I wanted to go further. The narrator is a decapitated head. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Suzanne
1.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't finish this
I have always been a great fan of Carlos Fuentes since way back with "Los de Abajo." I couldn't wait to read this latest. I tried and tried. Read more
Published on May 11, 2011 by Fairlee E. Winfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Light reading this is not!
This would make a great discussion for a college lit. class - For me the type of book that I need to read again - so much material to discern -
Published on April 9, 2011 by FMM
3.0 out of 5 stars Destiny and Desires
To be honest, Carlos Fuente's Destiny and Desire felt like assigned reading. I had to struggle through much of it. Read more
Published on February 15, 2011 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars My first Fuentes book - Not my cup of tea
This is the first time I've written a first review on Amazon. What a shame that it's a pan [it's still a serious book, so two stars). Read more
Published on January 16, 2011 by GDH2
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