Magazine article World Literature Today

Arrecife

Magazine article World Literature Today

Arrecife

Article excerpt

Juan Villoro. Arrecife. Barcelona. Anagrama. 2012. isbn 978- 8433972359

It is no accident that Juan Villoro is classified as a postmodern author. We know that, in general, literary criticism resorts to the postmodern label when it seeks to quickly classify those works that are characterized by a fragmentary style, open endings, and an obsession with the present (mass media, sports, fashion, and entertainment). These are works that, in other words, deal with frivolous themes in a serious manner. Within this context, Arrecife confirms that Villoro's postmodernity, far from being an arbitrary label, is an apt classification, yet one that requires a careful reading to be understood.

Arrecife's plot is the following: An ex-rocker, Mario Müller, living in the Caribbean, sets up the Pyramid, a tourist attraction based on violent, but fake, experiences: simulated kidnappings and encounters with narcoguerrillas carried out by hired actors as well as excursions into the jungle in exotic places infested with dangerous beasts. The clients are, of course, bored American and European tourists in search of intense experiences that will shake them out of the tedium of their empty, superficial lives. "The Pyramid was governed by rest, understood as isolation, and diversion, understood as risk. A place where lights and music created a suspended reality and the entertainment programs raised the heartbeat." Everything goes well until one of the hotel divers is found murdered. From that moment, we discover that behind this exotic resort designed for frivolous tourists, where everything appears to happen in an impregnable bubble, emerges the violent reality of the Mexican drug cartels. The hidden violence that surrounds the Pyramid is the only real thing in the place.

The novel takes place in a saturated postmodern environment with an abundance of damaged characters who are eccentric or simply seeking a new opportunity in life, such as Sandra, the ashtanga yoga and Tibetan kung-fu instructor who lives in Mexico illegally; Tony, the ex-drug addict who builds sound systems for the hotel aquariums with help from computers; Mario, the manager, who sees himself as a New Age guru; and Ginger, an American diver who is the member of an extreme-sport club named Cruci/ Fiction. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.