Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amigoland


Amigoland by Oscar Casares
Hardcover, 357 pages
Little, Brown & Company, August 2009
ISBN-13: 9780316159692
highly recommended

Synopsis
In a small town on the Mexican border live two brothers, Don Fidencio and Don Celestino. Stubborn and independent, they now must face the facts: they are old, and they have let a family argument stand between them for too long. Don Celestino's good-natured housekeeper encourages him to make amends—while he still can. They secretly liberate Don Fidencio from his nursing home and travel into Mexico to solve the mystery at the heart of their dispute: the family legend of their grandfather's kidnapping. As the unlikely trio travels, the brothers learn it's never too late for a new beginning.

With winsome prose and heartfelt humor, Oscar Casares's debut novel of family lost and found radiates with generosity and grace and confirms the arrival of a uniquely talented new writer.
My Thoughts:

After reading the synopsis on the cover, I was sure I would not like Amigoland. Consequently, I was surprised at how much I did enjoy it. (Don't read the synopsis on the cover of the book - I'm telling you I would not have read this book if that were the only information on which I was relying.) It opens up with ninety-one year old Fidencio Rosales in the Amigoland nursing home - and hating every minute of it. He doesn't think he needs to be in the nursing home, he's sure people are stealing from him and needlessly medicating him. He is sure he does not need his walker and that he could walk with his canes. Also living in Brownsville is his youngest brother, Celestino, whom he hasn't spoken to for many yeras. Celestino's younger maid and lover Socorro helps encourage the two brothers to reconcile.

Amigoland surprised me. It is funny, touching, sad, and thoughful. The brothers are realistic characters, sometimes likeable, sometimes not. My only complaint about Amigoland is the sexual relationship of Celestino and Socorro. I didn't feel it added anything to the book and it some ways was distracting. If Casares had kept her character as a maid who simply became a friend and confidaunt to Celestino, it would have rang more true to me. Nonetheless, Casares is a gifted writer and one to watch. Highly Recommended

I won this book from Hachette Book Group in a give-away at Gwendolyn B.'s A Sea of Books

Quotes:

The One With The Flat Face was taking her time coming around with the cart. opening

"A man your age should not be smoking cigarettes."
"Leave me alone. I smoked my two cigarettes a day for most of my life, long before you or your mother and father were born, maybe even before their mother and father."
"Still, it's not good for you, sir. If you get sick with the flu, your luings are not going to be strong."
"And what, you afraid I won't make it all the way to ninety-two?" pg. 4

After that night he had gone to bed asking God to please not torment him with these dreams of
The Gringo With The Ugly Finger. It was just one more humble request added to the short but growing list of things he prayed for every night: for the staff to stop pilfering his chocolates, particularly the ones with the cherries that he was partial too; for the gout to go away once and for all; for some rest from the aches in his muscles and bones each morning; for some releif from his constant need to make water; for The One With The White Pants to stop finding new pills to give him; and most important of all, for him to find some way to escape from this prison where they kept him against his will; and for his freedom to come soon, even if it should cost him his life, so long as he didn't die here in this bed, surrounded by so many strange and unfamiliar faces. pg. 9-10

He staggered back to the closet, leaning against the edge of the bed for support, and retrieved the #1 box and placed it on the overbed table with the other box. He did the same thing with the #2, #4, and #5 boxes. It was part of his morning routine now to do an inventory count at the start of every day. How else was he going to know when these people were dipping into his shoe boxes for another piece of chocolate ot to take one of his pens or simply to move things around in an effort to make him think he couldn't keep track of his things? pg. 39-40

Don Celestino heard the phone ringing in the living room and wondered who would be calling him in the middle of the night. pg. 44

He was waiting for the caller to say something, waiting to see if it was her voice, when suddenly the line was cut. pg. 46

2 comments:

Diane said...

I am so looking forward to this book. I plan to read it before the end of the year. Your review was terrific, and makes me want to read it all the more. Have you read Tortilla Curtain, by TC Boyle -- loved it, makes me think of this book.

Lori L said...

I haven't read Tortilla Curtain yet, but am planning to someday. (I will probably read TC Boyle's Talk Talk first since it's in my TBR stacks.) I'll be looking forward to your review of Amigoland! I really hope you enjoy it too!