Mario Vargas Llosa's classic early novel takes place in a Peruvian town, situated between desert and jungle, which is torn by boredom and lust. Don Anselmo, a stranger in a black coat, builds a brothel on the outskirts of the town while he charms its innocent people, setting in motion a chain reaction with extraordinary consequences.
This brothel, called the Green House, brings together the innocent and the corrupt: Bonificia, a young Indian girl saved by the nuns only to become a prostitute; Father Garcia, struggling for the church; and four best friends drawn to both excitement and escape.
The conflicting forces that haunt the Green House evoke a world balanced between savagery and civilization and one that is cursed by not being able to discern between the two.
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About the Author
Mario Vargas Llosa, uno de los más destacados novelistas contemporáneos latinoamericanos, se lanzó a la fama con su novela La ciudad y los perros que obtuvo el Premio Biblioteca Breve y el Premio de la Crítica. Novelas posteriores son, entre otras, La casa verde (Premio de la Crítica y Premio Internacional de Literatura Rómulo Gallegos), Conversación en La Catedral, La guerra del fin del mundo y Lituma en los Andes con la que obtuvo el Premio Planeta 1993. Ha publicado también obras teatrales, ensayos y memorias. En 1986 compartió con Rafael Lapesa el Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras y en 1994 se le concedió el Premio Miguel de Cervantes de Literatura.
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The Green House
The sergeant takes a look at Sister Patrocinio and the botfly is still there. The launch is pitching on the muddy waters, between two walls of trees that give off a burning, sticky mist. Huddled under the canopy, stripped to the waist, the soldiers are asleep, with the greenish, yellowish noonday sun above: Shorty's head is lying on Fats's stomach, Blondy is breathing in short bursts, Blacky has his mouth open and is grunting. A thin shadow of gnats is escorting the launch, and butterflies, wasps, horseflies take shape among the bodies. The motor is snoring evenly, it chokes, it snores, and Nieves the pilot is holding the rudder in his left hand as he uses his right to smoke with, and his face, deeply tanned, is unchanging under his straw hat. These savages weren't normal, why didn't they sweat like other people? Sitting stiffly in the stem, Sister Angêlica has her eyes closed, there are at least a thousand wrinkles on her face, sometimes she sticks out the tip of her tongue, licks the sweat from her upper lip, and spits. Poor old woman, she wasn't up to these chores. The botfly moves its blue little wings, softly pushes off from Sister Patrocinio's flushed forehead, is lost as it circles off into the white light, and the pilot goes to turn off the motor, they were getting there, Sergeant, Chicais was beyond that gorge. But he was telling the good Sergeant that there wouldn't be anybody there. The sound of the engine stops, the nuns and the soldiers open their eyes, raise their heads, look around. Standing up, Nieves the pilot moves the rudder pole from left to right, the launch silently approaches the shore, the soldiers get up, put on their shirts, their caps, fasten their leggings. The vegetable palisade on the right bank suddenly opens up beyond the bend in the river and there is a rise, a brief parenthesis of reddish earth that descends to a tiny inlet of mud, pebbles, reeds, and ferns. There is no canoe on the bank, no human figure on the top of the rise. The boat runs aground. Nieves and the soldiers jump out, slosh in the lead-colored mud. A cemetery, a person's feelings could always tell, the Mangaches were right. The Sergeant leans over the prow, the pilot and the soldiers drag the launch up onto dry land. They should help the sisters, make a hand chair for them so they wouldn't get wet. Sister Angêlica is very serious as she sits on the arms of Blacky and Fats, Sister Patrocinio hesitates as Shorty and Blondy put their hands together to receive her, and as she lets herself down, she turns red as a shrimp. The soldiers stagger across the shore and put the nuns down where the mud ends. The Sergeant jumps out, reaches the foot of the hill, and Sister Angêlica is already climbing resolutely up the slope, followed by Sister Patrocinio, both are using their hands, they disappear among clouds of red dust. The soil on the hill is soft, it gives way with every step, the Sergeant and the soldiers go forward, sinking to their knees, hunched over, smothered in the dust, Fats is sneezing and spitting and holds his handkerchief over his mouth. At the top, they all brush off their uniforms and the Sergeant looks around: a circular clearing, a handful of huts with conical roofs, small plots of cassava and bananas, and thick undergrowth all around. Among the huts, small trees with oval-shaped pockets hanging from the branches: paucar nests. He had told her, Sister Angêlica, here was the proof, not a soul, now they could see for themselves. But Sister Angêlica is walking around, she goes into a but, comes out and sticks her head into the next one, shoos away the flies by clapping her hands, does not stop for a second, and in that way, seen from a distance, hazy in the dust, she is not an old woman but a walking habit, erect, an energetic shadow. Sister Patrocinio, on the other hand, does not move, her hands are hidden in her habit, and her eyes run back and forth over the empty village. A few branches shake and shrieks are heard, a squadron of green wings, black beaks, and blue breasts flies noisily over the deserted huts of Chicais, the soldiers and the nuns follow them with their eyes until the jungle swallows them up, the shrieking lasts for a moment. There were parrots around, good to know if they needed food. But they gave you diarrhea, Sister, that is they loosened up a person's stomach. A straw hat appears at the top of the hill, the tanned face of Nieves the pilot: that was why the Aguarunas were afraid, Sisters. They were so stubborn, you couldn't tell them not to pay any attention to him. Sister Angêlica approaches, looks here and there with her little wrinkled eyes, and she shakes her gnarled, stiff hands with dark brown spots in the Sergeant's face: they were nearby, they hadn't taken away their things, they had to wait for them to come back. The soldiers look at each other, the Sergeant lights a cigarette, two paucars are coming and going through the air, their black and gold feathers giving off damp flashes. Birds too, there was everything in Chicais. Everything except Aguarunas, and Fats laughs. Why wouldn't they attack unexpectedly?, Sister Angelica is panting, maybe you didn't know them, Sister, the cluster of white hairs on her chin trembles slightly, they were afraid of people and they hid, they wouldn't think of coming back, while they were there they wouldn't even see their dust. Small, pudgy, Sister Patrocinio is there too, between Blondy and Blacky. But they hadn't hidden last year, they had come out to meet them and they had even given them a fresh gamitana, didn't the Sergeant remember? But they hadn't known then, Sister Patrocinio, now they did ...The Green House. Copyright © by Mario Vargas Llosa. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is mainly about a village in Peru that lies between the jungle and the desert. A brothel that is built on the outskirts of village is at the heart of the story, and the effect it has on the lives of the village residents and the surrounding area are the threads of the story.I've never before read Llosa. It was an unusual reading experience for me, and at times I found it hard to follow. Even now that I've had plenty of time to reflect, I don't know if I loved it or hated it, or if it was brilliant or if it was mediocre. I would definitely read Llosa again, just because I'd like to figure him out. He's somewhat of an enigma to me ... and I like that.
The prolific Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa is according to many, THE Voice of Latin American literature. He is well known for his political activism and has a long tenure as a high profile spokesman for Spanish language letters. In 1994 he was the recipient of the prestigious Miguel De Cervantes Prize. His oeuvre spans journalism, fiction, criticism and drama. Having only read his War at the End of the World oh so many years ago, I picked his second novel 1965¿s, The Green House to review. Some critics hold this up as his most important work. Being a glutton for punishment, I opted for it since its also thought of as his most difficult novel.Viscera.There is no single protagonist per se, rather there are intertwined narratives focusing around six major characters who are all inhabitants of the Piura region of northwest Peru. Their story is gradually re-constructed in Llosa¿s narrative kaleidoscope which I will visit in Bones. The novel¿s plot, which as readers of Traces know by now usually is not summarized, is complicated. Suffice to say its synopsis would be a feat in itself¿But since it IS a challenge, here is a rough sketch anyway:In the rural village of Santa María de Nieva, lives Bonifacia, a young Aruguna Indian who is a nun-in-waiting. She lets two Aruguna Indian girls out of the convent¿s enclosed yard to escape, as they were forcibly taken from their jungle huts by soldiers in an attempt to `civilize¿ them. After she is expelled from the convent one narrative follows her trajectory from Nun to prostitute (as `Wildflower¿) and her relationships that will affect the five other main characters. Meanwhile another storyline follows the life of Don Anselmo, a stranger who appears one day and endears himself to the townspeople, later he becomes the proprietor of The Green House, a brothel he has built at the edge of town. After a debacle and tragedy (no plot spoiled here) he undergoes a transformation of sorts and becomes a quasi-orphic figure known as `the harp player¿. Simultaneously related is the story of the fugitive Japanese Trader Fushía and his part in the development of the region against the backdrop of the story of the Lituma, a soldier and local home town favorite who becomes a `cop¿ and is sent by the corrupt Governor to put a stop to the exploitation by the Rubber traders (who compete with the equally corrupt Governor) of the indigenous Indian tribes. Then we have the side story of Lalita, wife of first Fushía, then Adrían Nieves, who uses the men as they use her. Lastly is the story of the river `pilot¿ Adrían Nieves, whose actions interrelate with all the above mentioned as he is relied on as a navigator who plies his boat on the jungle rivers, facilitating at different points, both the illegal traders and the soldiers who will later hunt him.Bones.The overall structure is a montage that Llosa¿s favorite American author Faulkner would have envied. The narrative jumps back and forth chronologically from a myriad of perspectives, and each section¿s context only gradually makes sense as the collage is pieced together. Of the two main frames, one is an ongoing reconstruction of the past part the illustrious fugitive Trader Fushía played in his trade with the different jungle tribes, as he later relates to his only trusted fellow trader Don Aquilino , as he gradually fills in gaps in time where Aquilino was not present. Framed within their narrative, Llosa uses a ¿picture in picture¿ technique to flashback to dialogue sections in present tense to the actual scenes he is relating, ¿camera shots¿ of exchanges of conversation. As if dramatizing, or `showing¿ while simultaneously telling Fushía¿s perspective of the same fictive events to Aquilino. The jumps are frequent and at first hard to follow, but later the repetitions of this device their context becomes apparent and resonate off each other. The second main frame narrative threads interleave the stream of consciousness sections focalized from many dif
Bought this novel after a trip to Peru when I became interested in the writer. A wonderful South American saga with some elements of magical realism.