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Monstruary Hardcover – March 6, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (March 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375408231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375408236
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,976,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spanish writer R!os (Loves That Bind; Larva), nightmarish images drift before us and then vanish, leaving behind only the possibility that we might find ourselves reflected in them. When we first encounter Mons, the painter who represents the moving center of the book, he is in the hospital, recovering from a wild night out in Berlin with friends during which he had hallucinations that will later inspire his work. The book builds toward the creation of a series Mons calls Monstruary, in which he paints acquaintances and people he sees on the street as if they were beasts, consumed by their obsessions. The individuals who attract Mons's gaze are indeed a motley bunch, all similarly afflicted. One Calvinoesque architect has created an entire book of imaginary cities. A Joyce scholar obsessively studies a young woman's automatic writing in a notebook with Joyce's picture on the cover, finding in it allusions to the Irish writer's lifeAwhich are poignant for him because his wife is named Joyce. Many of the figures are women Mons has loved: some models, some artists, one wealthy patron who may actually be an actress only pretending to be a patron. The paintings are filled with dark eroticism, usually with strong sadomasochistic overtones. Yet the works are never really shocking, perhaps because we never actually see them, perhaps because R!os's meditative approach dulls their effect. The novel has an extremely ornate, languorous style that can be as thick as syrup but that for the most part is pleasurably decadent. The progress and fate of Mons's artwork constitutes the only story line, but for the right reader, the hallucinatory trajectory could be revelatory. (Mar. 16) Forecast: If the coverAshowing a nude woman, from the backAon the galley holds, browsers will pick up this novel from the shelves. R!os's high literary rep and strong reviews could do the rest in making this a word-of-mouth hit.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Rios, in a dazzling display of erudition and linguistic pyrotechnics (thanks to a marvelous translation that seemingly captures every nuance of the original Spanish), explores the art world, using art here much as he used literature as the scaffolding in Loves That Bind (Knopf, 1998). Emil, reprising his narrator's role in the earlier novel, describes some people important to his friend, the artist Victor Mons. Mons draws his inspiration from both real life and his imagination, transforming the people he meets into the monstrous characters who populate a series of works called Monstruary. These include a famous Joyce scholar whose wife is also named Joyce (which leads to some wonderful wordplay), a wealthy and egocentric patron who commissions Mons to paint his portrait on his lover's skin, and Mons' lover, whose recital of all of her amatory adventures both depresses and excites the painter. Still, for all its pleasures, this remains a novel that readers will connect with mainly on an intellectual level. The pages are turned in order to discover what the author, not the characters, is up to next. Nancy Pearl
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lvkleydorff on December 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
An incredible assemblage of characters. A multitude of hints and hidden meanings. It seems to me that the author wants to show off his extensive knowledge of the arts and literature. In that way the book is a quiz about the reader's education, giving him an "aha" moment every time he recognizes one of the characters. And that is just about it - there is no story line to the book. The author is just playing around.
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By Alex C. Telander on October 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Spanish author Julián Ríos, of Loves that Bind and Poundemonium, brings us his latest piece of work, Monstruary, at the hands of translator Edith Grossman. Monstruary is a complex weave work that simultaneously confuses and elucidates.

Our lead character, Victor Mons, is a painter whose most recent collection is titled Monstruary: "a menagerie of personal demons summoned from the disturbing and often erotic images of his past." The reader travels sidecar to Mons' mind, as the painter sets out into the world to discover the muses for his palettes. Along the way we meet a multitude of different characters: beautiful models, fiendish figures, phantasms and prostitutes. Then there is the architect who is attempting to deconstruct a real city by constructing imaginary ones, and the anonymous patron who wishes to have his portrait painted upon the very skin of his mistress.

In Monstruary the reader is taken on a Technicolor trip by the create and skilled hand of Julián Ríos, creating a story that is quite unlike any other.

Originally published on October 8th 2001

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

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