30 October 2014

Book Review: The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

One man is on his death bed. And as he lay dying, he recalls all the events that were pivotal in his life, from his rise as a poor person to a powerful magnate, as well as the various crucial things that happened which lead him to where he was at this point. This is the entire premise of the book, and that results in a very interesting narrative structure, so to speak.

See, this book is filled with flashbacks. In fact, all of the book is pretty much a series of flashbacks, since the main timeline (the present) is just Artemio Cruz dying, on his death bed. As he lay dying, his mind transports him to events that happened in the past, and therefore there are several discontinuities in the narrative time line, jumping back and forth between the non-eventful present and the event-filled past.

I also like the fact that the narrative styles differ depending on the time line. There are passages that are written in the second person, while there are passages that deviate from that, and every deviation pretty much indicates a shift in the temporal structure of the novel.

Overall, I loved the structure of this novel. The plot is way less interesting for me, and what I find interesting instead is the way this novel is structured, and stylized. I sometimes think that I could even possibly hold a seminar about this book, if I were a literature major, because analyzing the structure of this book is just a feat.

However, what I don't like about this book is the content. I guess I am not too excited about a Mexican person's life and death. Hence I find myself in a peculiar situation, of liking the book for its structure and layout but hating it for its content. I am just not enthusiastic about someone's death and dying.

Anyway, I think I will value the structure more than the content on this one. And therefore I will still give this book a rating of 4 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

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