The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War

The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War

by Mario Bencastro
     
 

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A grand mystical tree festooned in brilliant red flowers becomes he life force of a village. When the tentacles of civil unrest tear the hamlet apart the tree swallows the dead and fallen friends and enemies are born again to live in peace within the majestic and benevolent tree.

As in the title story, the passion and politics of the civil war in E1 Salvador, the

Overview

A grand mystical tree festooned in brilliant red flowers becomes he life force of a village. When the tentacles of civil unrest tear the hamlet apart the tree swallows the dead and fallen friends and enemies are born again to live in peace within the majestic and benevolent tree.

As in the title story, the passion and politics of the civil war in E1 Salvador, the blight of political strife and social injustice color this richly textured short story collection. With poetic vision the author chronicles a chapter of hemispheric history that gripped El Salvador and polarized not only the United States but also every other country in Central and South America. The turmoil, intrigue and suffering have been captured and universalized in these beautifully wrought tales told from the perspective of the common man caught up in a confusing maelstrom.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These 15 stories deal with people of El Salvador striving to lead ordinary lives amidst the brutality of the 13-year (1979-1992) civil war that rages around them. The pervasive violence is set against a backdrop of mysticism and faith, as those who are oppressed try to retain a sense of meaning while experiencing or witnessing horrific cruelty. "Photographer of Death'' concerns a mild-mannered employee of the completely ineffectual Human Rights Commission whose job it is to photograph each day's victims. He describes gruesomely tortured and deformed bodies, circling vultures, packs of stray dogs digging up corpses. Then he becomes one of the disappeared. Each short narrative recounts brutalities inflicted at random and manifold injustices, yet each is related with calm clarity and no trace of melodrama. The novella "Once Upon a River" is a heartwrenching tale of teenagers whose love can't surmount the carnage. In the best of these stories, the matter-of-fact recital of unspeakable horrors is punctuated by vivid imagery. Yet the prose throughout is somewhat stiff and the dialogue stilted; it is difficult to tell whether this is due to the translation or to the author's deliberate attempt to underplay the grim nature of his material. In some tales, however, Bencastro emphasizes the ongoing quality of life, the ways nature renews the landscape and men and women rediscover hope. (May)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558851863
Publisher:
Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 8.39(h) x 0.33(d)

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