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At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay Paperback – March 8, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
It all makes for an extremely entertaining read. I found myself laughing out loud several times. He has a wonderful knack for illustrative storytelling. He can make you feel like you know someone with a few sentences. His accounts of the Mennonites and other separatist "foreign" groups in Paraguay are hilarious. And he obviously moves comfortably within the other world that is Asuncion's upper class. But I also wished that he had applied his wit to the regular mestizo Paraguayans who make up the vast majority of the populous.
I have lived off and on in rural Central Paraguay for 10 years and I for one would have loved to read something that includes their experiences and history. But Gimlette remains exclusively focused on the upper echelons of Paraguayan society and the ex pat pretenders to such status. He seems to view ordinary Paraguayans as the inscrutable heirs of the strange savages his countrymen encountered centuries ago. Maybe he doesn't speak Guarani, but I've yet to encounter a Paraguayan who wouldn't turn themselves inside out to try to share their stories with a foreigner, even if they have to do it in Spanish.
Because of its narrow focus, his book neglects to tell the reader anything about the Paraguay they will see and hear if they ever ventured there. We read nothing about chipa sold from baskets carried atop the sellers head [with no hands!], or the never ending parade of mobile vendors selling everything from chewing gun to tools and medicine aboard the buses. He doesn't talk about how you can walk up to any strangers house and sit down to tea; Or about the local buses with adolescent boys and bulky cargo riding on the roofs. There's nothing about the brutal honesty of the Paraguayan people, or how welcoming they are to strangers. There are hundreds of such experiences and images missing from this book. And I for one, wish that I could have seen them through Gimlette's eyes. But it seems that for him, like for his wealthy friends, the "common" Paraguayan is not worth notice, just another part of the surroundings, nameless, and story-less. It's that blindness that keeps this book from being superb.
Although it doesn't present a complete picture of Paraguay, this book does an excellent job of presenting one aspect of Paraguayan society and part of it's distant history. The narrator's voice is entertaining and throughly English. The book's main weakness as a travelogue is in its inability to show us more of Paraguay than the author's upper-class friends.
countries in South America.John Gimlette has tremendous knowledge
of his subject. He conveys his impressions as a traveller,he gives historical background and he is sarcastic and funny.This book is a pleasure to read, it is captivating.
It might not be " politically correct" at times, but describing
a brutal dictator who devastated his country in " politically correct" terms, I'd like to know what they are...
Having been to Paraguay, it re-awakend an interest in that country again.I have adopted Paraguay as my special subject and
pursue it with a passion. I stop short only on Guarani as a
language, but even that language fascinates me.
John Gimlette must be congratulated on this book, as an avid traveller and reader of travel books, this book is outstanding.
It is almost a measure as to how travel books should be written,
but then, we all have our special tastes and likes.