A mysterious plague is decimating the population of colonial Mexico. One of His Majesty’s highest physicians is dispatched from Spain to bring the latest advances in medical science to the backward peoples of the New World capital. Here begins the cyclical tale of man battling the unknown, of science confronting the eternally indifferent forces of nature.
Morales takes us on a trip through ancient and future civilizations, through exotic but all-too-familiar cultures, to a final confrontation with our own ethics and world views. In later chapters, the colonial physician finds his successors as they once again engage in life or death struggles, attempting to balance their own hopes, desires and loves with the good society and the state. Book II of the novel takes place in modern-day southern California, and Book III in a futuristic technocratic confederation known as Lamex.
In the tradition of Latin American born novelist, Alejandro Morales is one of the finest representatives of magic realism in the English language. In The Rag Doll Plagues, Morales creates a many layered fictional world, taking us on an entertaining and thought-provoking safari thorough lands, times, peoples and ideas never before encountered or presented in this manner. But ultimately, this valuable trip leads to a reacquaintance with our own society and its moral vision.
|Publisher:||Arte Publico Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
ALEJANDRO MORALES is the author of several novels published in the United States and Mexico, including Little Nation and Other Stories (Arte Público Press, 2014), River of Angels (Arte Público Press, 2014), Hombres de ladrillo (Arte Público Press, 2010), The Brick People (Arte Público Press, 1992),The Rag Doll Plagues (Arte Público Press, 1992) and River of Angels (Arte Público Press, 2014). The Captain of All These Men of Death (2006) was published by Bilingual Review Press. Morales was born in Montebello, California. He received an AA degree from East Los Angeles College, a BA degree from California State University, Los Angeles, and an MA and doctoral degree in Spanish from Rutgers University. He is now a professor in the Chicano/Latino Studies Program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Irvine. He lives in Santa Ana, California, with his family.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am completely perplexed by this book. By any standard I know of, it is simply bad writing with no redeeming features. But when I poke around on the Internet, I find it is praised (or at least described) as either magic realism or something like magic realism. If that¿s true, then it may be that no standard I know of is a fair one to use in judging this book. So, I won¿t actually assert that it¿s bad writing with no redeeming features. It may, for instance, be funny, and I just don¿t get it. Or the author may be intending to challenge traditional standards of good writing by defying them all and tempting someone to call his work sophomoric, which would actually be falling into some sort of trap, somehow. So, I won¿t call the book sophomoric. It¿s in three parts. Part one takes place in Mexico City, 1788, and relates the hopeless efforts of a Spanish doctor to fight an especially horrid plague. The plague eats away at the extremities and works its way toward the torso. Nothing will save the victims, once they contract the plague, but multiple amputations will slow its progress¿hence the name of the book. The vivid and horrific nature of both the disease and the treatment lead me to believe this isn¿t meant to be funny. But the narrator affects some sort of stilted language, which I guess is supposed to be the author¿s impression of an English translation of late 18th century Spanish. So everyone who catches the plague dies, and the disease eventually moves on. Part two is in contemporary Los Angeles. The narrator now is a chicano doctor, who is in love with an actress. We know he¿s in love because he writes like someone in love¿piling one metaphor on top of another until the meaning of a simple sentence has been obscured past recognition: ¿She was happy even in the stone-cold afternoon which hid little knives that carved their way through her body as she wrote on my arms and back silent undecipherable words. My skin against hers. We kissed. I searched for water in her green-blue eyes and I found stone.¿ OK¿I got the ¿we kissed¿ part, but not much else. In part two, it turns out that AIDS was actually a secret weapon the USA set loose in Africa. Part three is set in the gosh-wow future, where we have another narrator who can¿t write. Here, I see the magic realism just fine. Plagues come from the sea, travel underground, and appear in some random city, for instance. The previous narrators reappear as ¿mechanical ghosts.¿ OK, fine. But, the stilted language of the previous sections has evolved into a sort of 1930s Golden-Age-of-Sci-Fi pedantry: ¿She piloted our emergency vehicle into the entry position on the computer travelway. She punched our code and destination and in thirty seconds, just enough time to prepare psychologically, our vehicle was catapulted into the supersonic travelway.¿ Common sense tells us that in such a world, nothing, absolutely nothing, would actually be called an ¿emergency vehicle,¿ or a ¿computer travelway¿ or a ¿supersonic travelway,¿ when there are perfectly good slang-like syllables out there. How about starting out with, ¿She zummed the flivver into the sling-dock¿? But maybe that¿s the difference between futuristic magic-realism and sci-fi.