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The Obscene Bird of Night (Verba Mundi) (Verba Mundi (Paperback)) Paperback – December 1, 1995
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Although many of the other "boom" writers may have received more attention especially Fuentes and Vargas Llosa Donoso and his masterpiece may be the most lasting, visionary, strangest of the books from this time period. Seriously, it's a novel about the last member of an aristocratic family, a monstrous mutant, who is surrounded by other freaks so as to not feel out of place. --Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
As the work has multiple foundations, one of the major ones about Humberto Penaloza, who as a child & adolescent was always told by his father that he must become something, it doesn't matter what, as long as Humberto doesn't go through the same social obscurity that he endures. Later on, he becomes the assistant to Jeronimo, a wealthy politician who is trying to lengthen the family tree. His wife, Ines de Azcoitia is unable to bear him children. Then through either an act of black magic, or Humberto's intimacy Jeronimo is given his child. The child, simply called Boy, is horribly deformed. Jeronimo decides to build the child it's own world, entirely secluded from anything outside of it and surrounded by other people with monstrosities. Humberto is put in charge, and becomes the abnormal one in this newly formed world where deformities is not the exception but the rule. Humberto's abnormality is his plain everyman look, social obscurity. He ends his days in a former catholic church, now peopled by elderly women, either nuns or former servants waiting to die.
This book works on so many different levels & they're always communicating to one another, effortlessly the past becomes the present, it is a hallucinatory poetic parade of the grotesque and the beautfiul, of the grotesque as the beautiful. It is also a commentary on domination in its many forms- husband & wife, father & son, the elderly & the young, master & servant. Sometimes the dominant position is usurped & the roles are reversed.
It's no wonder that both Carlos Fuentes & Luis Bunuel considered it to be a masterpiece.
The Obscene Bird of Night is justly considered one of the best books in Chilean literature. Richly and skilfully written, its myth and metaphor wraps around itself to be moving, horrifying, mystifying and satisfying.
This is a book that needs some time. It is very far from an easy read. If I have not given it five stars, it is not a comment on the genius of the book. Rather, it is simply that it is more grotesque than I really have the stomach to enjoy in an unqualified way. I admire it immensely, and recommend it unhesitatingly.
When reading, you are plunged into such a different world that the images created encase you, lock you into the plot.
This novel, is a step into the mist for anyone who has only stuck to the odd thriller. It is a opening to wider horizons - that of magic realism.
There is a massive vision to the book that cannot be overlooked, from the virgin birth to the old woman seeking the finger of the saint, the voyeurism, the painful and obvious exploitation of everyone involved, and the little packages that old women keep under their beds. This isn't a single read novel, and I think that it deserves a second full digestion to make full impact.
The translation is fabulous, and the characters are unforgettable. It is without doubt a tale that needs to be told, and one that encompasses so many lives and dreams that you are left wondering which is reality.
It is very diffult to even outline the plot for those who might be interested because this book is truly a spiders web with the main character of Humberto Penaloza at the center. Yet, when you look back on the story you begin to wonder if it isn't someone else who was truly the middle of this magical and mysterious work after all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was completely unable to understand or get into this book. One of the very few books that I couldn't finish and didn't want to waste my time on.Published 15 months ago by Satisfied Customer
I read this book and enjoyed it immensely ... it is sad and touching but when the story starts hitting you it is something you may find a bit too often if you read a large amount... Read morePublished on January 13, 2014 by Echezona Udeze
I rated this a 4 because I greatly enjoyed the flowing narration like a puzzle
I am not good at reviews but I would and will read other books by the author
Point of fact: It is not humanly possible to figure out what exactly is happening in the Obscene Bird of Night (OBN). Read morePublished on November 9, 2011 by ivona poyntz
This masterpiece by the late Chilean author José Donoso centers around the Azcoitías, a family of Chilean aristocrats. Read morePublished on January 29, 2009 by Darryl R. Morris
I will make this short and I'm not going to summarize the book. This was a wonderful book to read. The imagery is fantastic. The writing and depth of story is awesome. Read morePublished on June 13, 2008 by Joseph L. Briones
I have a really hard time finding fitting words for describing this work. I will, perhaps in the manner of the author and the formal lines the story follows, will make the... Read morePublished on December 28, 2006 by Jehu Hernandez Navarrete