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Destiny and Desire: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 4, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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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)
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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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068800
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068807
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #979,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After I read the first section, I didn't think I wanted to go further. The narrator is a decapitated head. Curiosity pulled me back into the fray, an enormous undertaking, a political, philosophical and historical saga of Mexico leading up to present times. The plot revolves around a friendship between two seemingly orphaned boys who meet in elementary school.

The the web of deceit that is revealed among their circle of acquaintances as they mature is frightening. The cruelty is reminiscent of the Dark Ages. With all this, the dialogues between characters are difficult to follow, partly because they go on and on, sometimes clarifying their meanings and sometimes not. This novel is the work of genius and a real challenge.
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Format: Hardcover
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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