The Orange Tree

The Orange Tree

4.4 15
by Carlos Fuentes
     
 

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In the five novellas that comprise The Orange Tree, Carlos Fuentes continues the passionate and imaginative reconstruction of past and present history that has distinguished Terra Nostra and The Campaign. From the story of Columbus's arrival in the Caribbean, to the fate of Hernan Cortes's two sons, to the destruction of the Spanish city ofSee more details below

Overview


In the five novellas that comprise The Orange Tree, Carlos Fuentes continues the passionate and imaginative reconstruction of past and present history that has distinguished Terra Nostra and The Campaign. From the story of Columbus's arrival in the Caribbean, to the fate of Hernan Cortes's two sons, to the destruction of the Spanish city of Numantia by the Romans and the annihilation of Hollywood by Acapulco, Fuentues couples the epic grandeur of the spiritual and the historical with the many pleasures of the flesh. "In The Orange Tree," he remarks, "I gather together not only all my most immediate sensual pleasures--I see, touch, peel, bite, swallow--but also the most primordial sensations: my mother, wet nurses, breasts, the sphere, the world, the egg." The result is a sensitive exploration of cultural conflict that is also a feast for the senses.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These five bawdy, often tongue-in-cheek novellas seem at first to have little in common with the Mexican author's earlier work ( The Campaign , Terra Nostra ), but one finds similarities, particularly a focus on cultures in collision. ``The Two Shores'' describes the experiences of translators who compete for the attention of the conqueror Cortes. One is a shipwrecked Spanish soldier held captive by Aztecs, the other an Indian woman who becomes Cortes's mistress. Fuentes adds a twist to this tragic tale of betrayal and collusion--the soldier has fallen in love with Mexican culture and seeks to preserve it by feeding the explorer misleading information; the mistress is willing to destroy her native land in order to protect her own life. The less successful ``Sons of the Conquistador'' alternates narrators to provide a perspective on the fate of Cortes's two sons, one a legitimate heir, the other a bastard child. The hilarious ``Apollo and the Whores'' describes the death by heart attack--during a marathon copulation--of an aging movie star in Acapulco: the tale is dolefully narrated from beyond the grave. ``The Two Numantias'' is the bitter story of a Roman general's attempts to bring ``civilization'' to the ``barbarous'' Spanish. In ``The Two Americas,'' a 500-year-old Christopher Columbus encounters Japanese marketing men who are developing the mythical paradise of Antilia. While the quality of these narratives is uneven, Fuentes's technical prowess makes this collection enjoyable. (Apr.)
Library Journal
By taking on the voices of scribes or minor characters in various periods of Iberian or Mexican history, Fuentes, the doyen of Mexico's fiction writers, is again able to explore what it means to be Hispanic or Mexican. The device also allows him to provide ironic commentary on great historical events. Connecting the stories are a binary parallelism: an exploration of how language and historiography play significant roles in a country's history and the presence of the eponymous orange tree--from seed to maturity. In one story, Cortes's deceased interpreter explains how he and the conquistador's other interpreter (and Aztec mistress) purposely mistranslated most of the discussions between Moctezuma and Cortes, with dire consequences. In another, Cortes's two sons, legitimate and otherwise, plead their cases. In the final story, Christopher Columbus casts embottled memoirs of the New World into the sea while magically living to the contemporary era. His writings find their way to Asia, and he ends up signing over the rights to Paradise to Japanese developers. Although the irony is sometimes a bit too thick, Fuentes's imagination creates vivid worlds, and his writing is powerful. Highly recommended.-- Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York
Brad Hooper
Praise be to Latin Americans for their superb historical fiction! In four of the five pieces here, Fuentes delves into the Hispanic world's past, with effective, even magical, results. The first, "The Two Shores," is a first-person narrative by a Spanish conquistador, who functioned as a translator between his troops and the Aztecs; his account of the conquest of Mexico is spoken from the grave, and offers sympathy to the defeated native inhabitants. A real sense of history is evoked, as is a real sense of the psychology of both Spaniard and Aztec. Fuentes' use of first-person is wise, adding vigor to the drama. Same with "Sons of the Conquistador," which is, as the title indicates, about the two sons of Cortes, both named Martin, one the son of his Spanish wife, the other the illegitimate son of his Indian mistress. The two Martins offer a point/counterpoint discussion about their father, whereby the man and his times jump to life. In "The Two Numantias," the Spain of Roman times is solidly conjured in brief space; and "The Two Americas" both informs and entertains as it sees Columbus returning to Spain on a jet 500 years after he left. The remaining story, "Apollo and the Whores," is different from the others in that it is set in contemporary times, and it deals amusingly with an American grade-B movie actor visiting Acapulco and his phantasmagorical death there. No active fiction collection should do without this wonderful book.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466840010
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
05/14/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
250
Sales rank:
1,238,318
File size:
0 MB

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