Right. I’m not entirely sure how to even review this book, ok, so if I fail please don’t chase me down with bags of flaming poop or anything (seriously, that’s weird and you need some help.)
It’s kind of like if Joseph Heller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, and Kurt Vonnegut got together for a big orgy, somehow produced a lovechild from their sweet unholy lovemaking, then took turns getting drunk and teaching said child how to write. This is the book that child would create.
So basically, it’s amazing. Set in a fictional South American country that greatly resembles Colombia, the British author combines that beautiful magical realism that South American writers excel at with British snark and acute sense of the absurd to make something even better. Occasionally the political rhetoric gets just a leeeetle heavy handed, but too much is better than not enough in this case. Those of you who’ve read Catch-22 will probably notice a resemblance to the depictions of the nonsense and, well, catch-22s that occur in life and especially war.
Without missing a beat, the story turns from depictions of the utmost imaginable human cruelty to tender love, from humor to tragedy and back again. A considerable portion of the book is taken up with character portraits of the diverse cast: a lecherous priest, a fierce guerilla leader, a brutal Capitan.
What’s even more incredible is that this was de Bernieres’ first novel. You may recognize one of his more famous, later books: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Unfortunately, his naming game seemed to decrease with time, because The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts is, let’s face it, pretty amazing even if foresaid nether parts only form a small yet catalytic part of the actual novel. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, however, is just weak as a name. I think we can all admit that. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve passed it over in the library or in a bookshop because there were so many books with titles that weren’t so fucking boring, like Advanced Statistics for Dummies or How to Identify Large Ships. In fact, I still haven’t read it. Maybe I should do that someday, but in the meantime I’m going to continue talking about this book right here that I am reviewing right now. So anyways.
Possibly the only beef I have is that it didn’t last longer than its 363 pages. Luckily for everyone, it’s actually the first book of a trilogy. I have not yet read the other two books, but I have heard some mixed things about them so I shall read them and report back…eventually…
I’d write a longer review but frankly, you should really be reading this book right goddamn now. Why are you still here? Go read the book already!