Architecture professor Juan Manuel Barrientos, the beguiling protagonist of Celorio's richly layered novel (his first to be translated into English), celebrates his retirement with an all-night binge accompanied by some favored students, and they agree to meet again the following day. When the students fail to appear, the professor begins to tour Mexico City on his own. The reader, now his only fellow-traveler, is treated to a learned and broad history interspersed with the fragmented memoir of Juan Manuel, who by happy hour has consumed "four beers, three tequilas, half a bottle of wine," some brandy and two martinis. By nightfall, he's falling down drunk, and there's suspense about a body hidden in Juan Manuel's closet and the failure of the students to appear, and as Juan Manuel descends into an alcoholic stupor, Celoria builds enough mystery about his state of mind to keep the what-will-happen-next question alive. It's intriguing and intelligent; readers familiar with the city will appreciate it anew. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centersby Gonzalo Celorio
Professor Juan Manuel Barrientos prefers footsteps to footnotes. Fighting a hangover, he manages to keep his appointment to lead a group of students on a walking lecture among the historic buildings of downtown Mexico City. When the students fail to show up, however, he undertakes a solo tour that includes more cantinas than cathedrals. Unable to resist either
Professor Juan Manuel Barrientos prefers footsteps to footnotes. Fighting a hangover, he manages to keep his appointment to lead a group of students on a walking lecture among the historic buildings of downtown Mexico City. When the students fail to show up, however, he undertakes a solo tour that includes more cantinas than cathedrals. Unable to resist either alcohol itself or the introspection it inspires, Professor Barrientos muddles his personal past with his historic surroundings, setting up an inevitable conclusion in the very center of Mexico City.
First published in Mexico in the late 1990s, And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centers was immediately lauded as a contemporary masterpiece in the long tradition of literary portraits of Mexico City. It is a book worthy of its dramatic title, which is drawn from a line in the Mexican national anthem.
Gonzalo Celorio first earned a place among the leading figures of Mexican letters for his scholarship and criticism, and careful readers will recognize a scholar's attention to accuracy within the novel's dyspeptic descriptions of Mexico City. The places described are indeed real (this edition includes a map that marks those visited in the story), though a few have since closed or been put to new uses. Dick Gerdes's elegant translation now preserves them all for a new audience.
- University of Texas Press
- Publication date:
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- 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Meet the Author
A scholar, fiction writer, and critic, GONZALO CELORIO lives in Mexico City, where he has been head of UNAM’s Latin American Literature Department since 1974. He is also author of the novels Amor Propio and Tres Lindas Cubanas; this is his first novel to be translated into English.
DICK GERDES is an award-winning translator based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
RUBÉN GALLO is Associate Professor of Spanish-American Literature at Princeton University and editor of The Mexico City Reader, an acclaimed anthology about Mexico’s capital city.
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