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Act of the Damned Paperback – September 12, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Awarded the Portuguese Writers' Association Grand Prize for Fiction, this novel allows American readers another glimpse at Antunes's difficult, malicious brilliance. Set in Portugal in the mid-1970s, it concerns a bourgeois family trying to settle the estate of its dying patriarch, Diogo, and escape the country before what they believe will be a dangerous socialist takeover. But it is around Rodrigo, Diogo's voraciously greedy son-in-law, that the story revolves, as he schemes to secure what money remains after Diogo's lifetime of crooked investments. Other contenders for the fortune are Diogo's three children: Leonor, wife of Rodrigo, bitter after his years of philandering; simple-minded Goncalo, obsessed with his model trains and married to the nameless mother of Francisco and beautiful Ana; and a severely retarded woman whose daughter (by Rodrigo) is referred to as "the cousin." Each character narrates a facet of the story, which itself just barely emerges from Antunes's (Elephant Memory) dazzlingly tangential style. Of the 10 perspectives given voice, that of Nunu, Ana's caustic husband, comprises the first third of the book; voices outside the clan include a doctor and a notary, both of whom are horrified at the family's corruption, which takes its most disturbing form in the compulsive incest perpetrated by Rodrigo. Set over five days, the narrative modulates between the characters' memories, fantasies and realities in darkly funny imagistic riffs. This tale of familial sin and disintegration (luminously translated by Zenith) chillingly mimics the surrounding political climate, as two dictatorships?of Portugal and of this family?perish.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Written ten years ago and set 20 years ago as the fall of Antonio Salazar ushered in an imaginary Communist revolution, this novel by Portugal's foremost writer, described as an amalgam of Celine and Dos Passos, deftly sketches a disintegrating world of scampering capitalist mice, once fattened on the cheese of factories and estates and now desperate to flee across the Guadiana into Spain. Against this setting unfolds Rodrigo's selfish struggle to cheat his simple-minded siblings of their inheritance. But despite his wiliest machinations, the inheritance is revealed to have been squandered on casinos, whorehouses, and medical treatments for the two idiotic siblings. A friendless Rodrigo is left stranded among gloating Communists. Hilarious in its baroque accumulation of detail and stunning for the author's control of his constantly shifting narrative voices, this work is worth committing to. For general readers as well as specialists.?Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (September 12, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802134769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,650,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John Fitzpatrick on December 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
I grabbed this book as soon as I read the blurb: "As the socialist revolution closes in, a once-wealthy Portuguese family is accused of "economic sabotage" and must escape across the border" as it reminded me of an interview I once made when I was a journalist with a member of such a family which had done exactly the same.

I thought it might be a veiled account of this family and the situation in Portugal in the aftermath of the 1974 revolution that ended the dictatorship.

The portenuous title should have put me on alert and it is nothing of the kind.

Its portrayal of Portugal, like its portrayal of the family, is as straightforward as a Jackson Pollock painting.

The book is basically a series of monologues and portraits of various members of a group that makes the Addams family appear normal.

As the narrative thunders on to its ending, it takes detours through rape, incest, theft, mongolism, greed, senility, drugs, alcoholism etc.

If you want a story with rounded characters, a beginning, middle and an end then don't read this. If you like a bumpy ride, you might like it.

Some parts are bleakly amusing but I imagine most readers will find the overall tone too high pitched for comfort.
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Format: Paperback
Lobo Antunes is a single writer and shows to the world the fellings and thoughts of Lisbon people. I prefer the man behind the writer. The writer is a cold and professional student of the behavior of the human bean, the man is searching without Know his happiness and forget the Africa war.
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Format: Paperback
One of the best contemporary portuguese novelists! The reading of this book, or any other of the same author for that matter, is both compelling and envolving! For those who are strangers to portuguese fiction I strongly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
Ok, so my first impression of this book so far is that Lobo Antunes is one of those novelists who should have been a poet. Similes and metaphors - sometimes brilliant, sometimes very lame - are piled on thick, one after the otther.

But it doesn't make any sense in a first person stream of consciousness narrative by a macho tough guy who declares in the very first line of the novel that he stays away from "p*&^y s*^t nonsese like diaries and poems". On page two the same tough-guy narrator calls the posters, advertisements, and graffiti that "in a week's time would be buried under placards uriging strikes, placards announcing rallies, photographs of generals, ads for rock concerts, swastikas, anti-government slogans and toilet-stall rhymes - a love affair of intertwining alphabet fingers, slowly fading in the autum of time." Another striking simile: "Like dogs on the beach following the trail of an imaginary scent along the water's edge." Later, we read of the "Catacombs of the garage, where cars grazed with their grilled teeth on their own shadows."

I can only conclude one of two things - Nuno, the narrator of the first section, is in fact a poet who is merely posturing a disapproval of poetry or Lobo Antunes cannot resist narrating the story in his own rich voice, even when he should be simulating the illusion that the character is the one narrating. Of course, it must be the latter, because in the other sections narrated by others, Lobo Antunes indulges in the same metaphorically rich language. Lobo Antunes poorly establishes the line between the narrator's voice, character voice, and his own voice - they all merge in the same prose. If it is on purpose, I don't see the point yet, but if it is not on purpose, it is a flaw in Lobo Antunes' craft and he would be well advised to revert to less daring, third person narrative in order to indulge in such extravagant personal poeticizing.
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