Three years have passed since Gustavo, a renowned psycholinguist, last spoke to his closest friend, Daniel, who's been interned in a psychiatric ward for murdering his fiancée. When Daniel unexpectedly calls to confess the truth behind the crime, Gustavo's long-buried loyalty resurfaces and draws him into the center of a quixotic, unconventional investigation. While Daniel reveals his unsettling story through fragments of fables, novels, and historical allusions, Gustavo begins to retrace the past for clues: from their early college days exploring dust-filled libraries and exotic brothels, to Daniel's intimate attachment to his sickly younger sister and his dealings as an antiquarian book collector. As the circumstances grow increasingly macabre and intricate with every turn, an increasingly skeptical Gustavo is forced to deduce a complex series of events from allegories that are more real than police reports, and metaphors more revealing than evidence.
With sumptuous prose and haunting imagery, Gustavo Favern Patriau has crafted an unforgettable labyrinthine tale about the reality of human suffering, the healing power of stories, and the strength of fraternal bonds. The Antiquarian is a masterfully conceived, engrossing novel of murder, madness, and passion that is as entertaining as it is erudite, dark as it is illuminating.
©2010 Gustavo Faverón Patriau. English translation copyright 2014 by Joseph Mulligan. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Gustavo Patriau channels Edgar Allen Poe in "The Antiquarian". This is a dark tale of murder, psychiatric imbalance, human’ guilt, and isolation. Mulligan’s translation appropriately gives one the creeps but the story becomes too predictable, early in its telling. The listener knows who the murderer is well before its ending.
The saving grace of the story is the vividness of Patriau’s characters. One is appropriately reviled, fascinated, and frightened by the author’s description of a psychotic murderer, the mysterious personalities of major and minor characters, and the credible profile of a misanthropist.
Patriau’s denouement reveals bizarre circumstances that fits Edgar Allen Poe’s oeuvre but miss Poe’s macabre and surprising twists of fate.
This book was always going off on a macabre tangent. The tangents - the allegories - are meant to help tell the story, but it got tiresome after a while. This is a book I wanted to like. It brought in a different culture, and had elements of a gothic suspense tale. And, I sensed the sincerity of the author's efforts to make sense of a war torn land (and perhaps his frustration with it?). But as far as a straight-up story goes, it wasn't that suspenseful or engaging.
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