A mysterious plague is decimating the population of colonial Mexico. One of His Majesty's highest physicians is dispatched from Spain to bring the latest advances in medical science to the backward peoples of the New World capital. Here begins the cyclical tale of man battling the unknown, of science confronting the eternally indifferent forces of nature.
Morales takes us on a trip through ancient and future civilizations, through exotic but all-too-familiar cultures, to a final confrontation with our own ethics and world views. In later chapters, the colonial physician finds his successors as they once again engage in life or death struggles, attempting to balance their own hopes, desires and loves with the good society and the state. Book II of the novel takes place in modern-day southern California, and Book III in a futuristic technocratic confederation known as Lamex.
In the tradition of Latin American born novelist, Alejandro Morales is one of the finest representatives of magic realism in the English language. In The Rag Doll Plague, Morales creates a many layered fictional world, taking us on an entertaining and thought-provoking safari thorough lands, times, peoples and ideas never before encountered or presented in this manner. But ultimately, this valuable trip leads to a reacquaintance with our own society and its moral vision.
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Swarms of butterflies and hummingbirds, a jaguar on a leash, a hero who's writing himself into existence, beneficent ghosts of ancestors--all the trappings of post-Borges magic realism are gathered in this undeniably derivative and yet often quite funny, quirky meditation on Mexican-American relations, the politics of epidemics and the uses of history. To pack all that into a mere 200 pages, Morales foreshortens, stylizes, and truncates plots and characters, creating a series of rigid allegorical tableaux with the static vitality and crudeness of a barrio mural. In Book One, Dr. Gregorio Revueltas, a physician sent from Spain to Mexico in 1788 (significant date), seeks a cure for a plague ravaging the colony. Spanish oppression of the natives, the Inquisition's persecution of indigenous curanderos, exacerbate the suffering. Only after the outbreak of the French Revolution does the plague, wrought by microbes and compounded by human stupidity, subside. In Book Two, Chicano doctor Revueltas (ca. 1950-85) works in a southern California barrio clinic where violence, drugs, and AIDS are the names of the plague, again both viral and social in its origins. This chapter is the least satisfactory. AIDS is too close and too complex and Morales hasn't thought about it enough. His lack of grounding even in the medical facts undermines his fantasy. Book Three is set in the late 21st- century world of LAMEX, a rigidly stratified hi-tech society that includes both L.A. and Mexico City. The sci-fi social satire is full of vivid scenes and liberating inventions--every pharmacy, for instance, carries the cures for AIDS and cancer. The plague now is environmental. It comes from the sea, and when it strikes, whole cities perish overnight. Another Dr. Revueltas reads his ancestors' plague-year diaries and, fortified by his sense of the past, discovers not only a cure for this plague but a way to turn the social order upside down, putting the poorest Mexicans on top for a while. Morales (The Brick People, Death of an Anglo--both 1988) offers a novel that exhibits the very qualities it celebrates: energy, hopefulness, a reverence for roots. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Mexican fiction writer Morales ( Brick People ) exhibits his range in a novel showing Hispanic doctors battling deadly infectious diseases over three centuries. The first section, a rather formal historical account, tells of an 18th-century Spanish physician sent to Mexico to diagnose and cure a plague, LaMona. The epidemic eventually subsides by itself, but the physician has fallen in love with New Spain and decided to make it his home. A contemporary Hispanic doctor living in Los Angeles affectingly narrates the book's second portion. When his wife, a hemophiliac, contracts AIDS through a contaminated blood transfusion, he takes her to Mexico to participate in an Indian healing ritual; although spiritually uplifting, the ceremony cannot halt the disease's ravages. The second doctor's grandson, also a physician, relates the final story, set in the future. A plague eerily similar to LaMona sweeps the population of Lamex, a U.S./Mexican technocratic confederation. The medical establishment is helpless until the narrator discovers that transfusions from pure-blooded Mexico City residents will cure the disease--the metropolis is so hideously polluted that its inhabitants' blood has genetically mutated, developing an antibody to the plague. Morales's unabashed ethnic chauvinism becomes hard to take: AIDS, it appears, was invented in a U.S. laboratory and exported to Africa; the Anglo-European presence that has oppressed Mexicans for centuries finally gets its just deserts in the SF finale. However, inventive writing and interesting premises spark the work.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Arte Publico Press, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111558851046