Read Los Gusanos: A Novel by John Sayles Free Online


Ebook Los Gusanos: A Novel by John Sayles read! Book Title: Los Gusanos: A Novel
The author of the book: John Sayles
Edition: HarperCollins Publishers
Date of issue: 1991
ISBN: 0060166533
ISBN 13: 9780060166533
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.76 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.6

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I normally go for modernist and post-modernist (but how I despise that term!) fiction, and am not too big on late 20C realism, but every now and again I dip my toe in, and occasionally I am pleasantly surprised. For example, Bruce Duffy's The World as I Found It is one such realist, historical novel about the lives and thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein, GE Moore, and Bertrand Russell, and it is so well written, so knowledgeable about its subject, so uncompromising in its vision and out-of-sync with any literary fashion that you could name that it deserves to be read, and re-read. And John Sayles' (a personal hero of mine, but whom I previously knew only through his films Matewan, Lone Star and others) Los Gusanos (1991) has just joined it on my all-time top-some-random-number list of favourites. Here's why.

This is a novel about those Cubans who emigrated to America after the revolution ("worms", los Gusanos, as Fidel Castro called them), and who, though their homeland remained a constant obsession, settled largely in Florida, which anchors the novel's present-tense narrative (circa 1981), when a young zealot, Marta de la Pena, daughter of a former rancher, decides to hatch a hair-brained scheme to launch a covert action of some kind on the 20th anniversary of her brother's "martyrdom" during the fiasco that was the Bay of Pigs invasion.

This structure of this novel is that of a fractured mirror, as another reviewer here on Goodreads has described it: each bit of shattered glass reflects the point of view of one of its numerous characters, and we readers pick up and examine the jagged-edged pieces, we are shuttled not only between their incommensurable narratives, but also backwards and forwards in time as Marta relentlessly pursues her dream of vengeance, which for her has taken on the status of a holy crusade—much as the original 1961 invasion was for some, if not all, of its participants.

And what a collection of participants Sayles introduces us to: noticeably absent are those like Fidel and his inner circle, for this is a novel about those caught up in the tide of history, not about those who allegedly "make" it. Even the CIA operatives who monitor Marta's every move are mere bit players, penny-ante gamblers who hope to move one rung up on the organizational and economic ladders that control their careers.

Each is given some small latitude of choice (we can hardly call it free will), and the choice is usually that of the Hobson's variety—i.e., between two equally unappealing alternatives, such as when Marta's Tio (uncle) Felix is given the choice between ferrying his niece to her certain doom on his sport fishing boat, or sucking up even more guilt and shame for never having been a combatant—even when he tried to join the fray, his troop ship chose not land on the first (and subsequently, only) day of the invasion, and Felix thereafter is known throughout Miami as a member of the "Brigade of Cowards".

Bravery and manliness are inseparable for these Cubans: Marta's father (and Felix's brother), Scipio, is a harsh patriarch, a twice-made man who passes on his brutal view of the world to his first-born son, Blas, who is a major player-in-exile from the increasingly competitive Miami drug scene and who returns to try to put a stop to his sister's little conspiracy. We are given Blas' backstory as a student and sometime-agitator in the days when Fidel is still ineffectually up in the mountains of the "oriente" of the island. Blas also befriends and ultimately rejects a wealthy young dilettante, who is critical of the world made by his father's generation, but who will also gladly inherit it—it will just have moved on to Miami. Yet Blas himself has nothing to offer as a substitute for the decadence and exploitation of the Batista era: indeed, when he joins the struggle up in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, he is not concerned with which faction he joins, so longs as he can exert himself as an agent of pure "will"—his one true allegiance, truer in his eyes than any of the abstract ideologies, which seem to rule over the lives of his compatriots.

This novel is a tightly-woven tissue of narratives that compelled my assent in the same manner as Duffy's aforementioned book on Wittgenstein and his circle: it gave me such a visceral sense of lived history, of history from the ground level (where the worms of the title dwell), that if this not how it happened, then this is how it ought (not) to have, for Sayles so completely imagines this story, it is hard to imagine any supplement to it, let alone any alternative version. Like the definitive version of any much-beloved song (Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" [itself based upon a great version by John Cale] comes to mind—note to kd lang and others: please stop), Sayles seems in this novel to exhaust the imaginative possibilities for his subject. It is that good.


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Read information about the author

Ebook Los Gusanos: A Novel read Online! John Thomas Sayles is an independent film director, screenwriter, novelist and short story writer who frequently plays small roles in his own and other indie films.


Reviews of the Los Gusanos: A Novel


WILLIAM

Rarely do the books make me cry, but this one could.

CHARLES

Why do you need to specify a phone?

EMMA

One of the best books

MOHAMMAD

Interesting read for true fans

LILLY

This book will make you shudder, infiltrate, and change your mind about this crazy world.




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