Vlad

( 2 )

Overview

Where, Carlos Fuentes asks, is a modern-day vampire to roost? Why not Mexico City, populated by ten million blood sausages (that is, people), and a police force who won't mind a few disappearances? "Vlad" is Vlad the Impaler, of course, whose mythic cruelty was an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. In this sly sequel, Vlad really is undead: dispossessed after centuries of mayhem by Eastern European wars and rampant blood shortages. More than a postmodern riff on "the vampire craze," Vlad is also an anatomy of...

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Overview

Where, Carlos Fuentes asks, is a modern-day vampire to roost? Why not Mexico City, populated by ten million blood sausages (that is, people), and a police force who won't mind a few disappearances? "Vlad" is Vlad the Impaler, of course, whose mythic cruelty was an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. In this sly sequel, Vlad really is undead: dispossessed after centuries of mayhem by Eastern European wars and rampant blood shortages. More than a postmodern riff on "the vampire craze," Vlad is also an anatomy of the Mexican bourgeoisie, as well as our culture's ways of dealing with death. For — as in Dracula — Vlad has need of both a lawyer and a real-estate agent in order to establish his new kingdom, and Yves Navarro and his wife Asunción fit the bill nicely. Having recently lost a son, might they not welcome the chance to see their remaining child live forever? More importantly, are the pleasures of middle-class life enough to keep one from joining the legions of the damned?

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this short novel, Fuentes (1928–2012) follows the pattern of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but infuses the story with a modern sensibility and vivid imagery: a bedroom filled with eerily identical dolls all dressed in pink; a flock of bats that resemble monstrous winged rats, with “filthy, long, hairy ears.” In place of Stoker’s Jonathan Harker, Fuentes has lawyer Yves Navarro, devoted to his beautiful wife, Asunción, and young daughter, Magdalena. Navarro makes a house call to the title character, a mysterious and wealthy new resident in overcrowded and somewhat lawless Mexico City. When Yves sets out for his appointment one dark and stormy night, the door to Vlad’s elegant new home (procured by Asunción, a real estate agent) is answered by a hunchback servant, and the vampire even uses the classic Dracula line, “I never drink... wine.” Navarro, however, does lose consciousness, and wakes knowing neither where he is nor how he got there. By the time Navarro realizes the danger around him, he’s already in too deep. A deliciously barbed bagatelle from a fiction master, with perhaps a strain of allegory for a world devoured by rapaciousness. (July)
Library Journal
Attorney Yves Navarro is ordered by his boss to find a home for his longtime Eastern European friend Vladimir Radu who is moving to Mexico City. The task is simplified somewhat because Yves's wife is a realtor who doesn't question the odd requirements for the house: blacked-out windows, drains in all the floors, and a tunnel connected to a ravine. One evening after having dined at the mansion, Yves is drugged and trapped inside but manages to escape through the tunnel which, to his surprise, is lined with coffins, in one of which reposes Vladimir. Realizing that Vlad is a vampire, Yves tries to extricate himself and his family who have also become implicated in Vlad's nefarious scheme. From there the novella rushes to a sudden but ambiguous denouement. VERDICT Fuentes dabbled in the occult in one of his earlier publications, Aura, but it seems odd that this bagatelle would appear at the end of his brilliant career as a first-class writer. Diehard Fuentes fans and those who like the gothic should go for it, but others might more appropriately pay fitting tribute to the recently deceased author by rereading some of his classics (The Death of Artemio Cruz or Old Gringo). [Fuentes's interest in the Dracula tale may have been prompted by his son's death from complications associated with hemophilia.—Ed.]—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
The New York Times Book Review
The short novel Vlad…provides ample evidence of Fuentes's powerful abilities…somehow Fuentes refreshes tired tropes. The novel is genuinely scary…Will readers appreciate a novel that pivots between hilarity and fear, insightful characterization and flamboyant fountains of blood? Let's hope so, because Vlad displays the strengths of a great writer's late oeuvre to excellent effect.
—Jeff VanderMeer
From the Publisher
"A deliciously barbed bagatelle from a fiction master, with perhaps a strain of allegory for a world devoured by rapaciousness." - Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564787798
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 7/18/2012
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 404,643
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of more than a dozen novels and story collections, Carlos
Fuentes is Mexico's most celebrated novelist and critic. He has received numerous honors and awards throughout his lifetime, including the
Miguel de Cervantes Prize and the Latin Literary Prize.
Included among his books are Terra Nostra, Where the Air Is Clear, and Distant Relations.

Alejandro Branger is a writer and filmmaker. He lives in New York City.

Ethan Shaskan Bumas wrote the story collection The Price of Tea in China, which was a finalist for PEN America West Fiction Book of the Year. He teaches at New Jersey City University.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An Invigorating Dark Comedy

    Vlad by Car­los Fuentes is a short novel tak­ing place in Mex­ico City, Mex­ico. The story was part of the 2004 col­lec­tion “Inqui­eta Com­pañía” and recently came out as its own book trans­lated by Ale­jan­dro Branger and Ethan Shaskan Bumas

    Count Drac­ula, Vlad, has decided to immi­grate toMex­ico after the may­hem inEast­ern Europe and count­less wars have short­ened his blood sup­plies. Vlad has ves­sels inMex­ico who intro­duce him Yves Navarro, a lawyer, and his wife Asun­ción, a real estate agent.

    Yves and Asun­ción have lost a son in sea and Vlad entices them with the promise of see­ing their daugh­ter live for­ever, and remain a child eternally.

    Vlad by Car­ols Fuentes takes on an inter­est­ing premise, what if Drac­ula still lived and set­tled inMex­ico City. As one might expect, there is a lot of dark humor in this book, start­ing with the strange requests the client is mak­ing of the real estate agent (“remote”, “easy to defend”) to the client’s look which con­sists of a silly wig and glued on mustache.

    What I found to be dif­fer­ent in this book is that the reader knows a lot more than the nar­ra­tor. This style of sto­ry­telling invig­o­rates the dark com­edy and brings a sense of omi­nous fore­bod­ing to banal and mean­ing­less lines said by the famous Count.

    In this ren­di­tion of the story, Fuentes mar­ries vam­pire and lawyers – both server as ves­sels for unprin­ci­pled lust with­out ethics. As many vam­pire sto­ries do, they let the fan­tasy and myth reflect on our own lives through anec­dotes and metaphors.

    While I’m not much for hor­ror and fear, I think this novel is a gem which clearly illus­trates the essence of great writ­ing, char­ac­ter­i­za­tion and flam­boy­ancy which are dif­fi­cult to pull off. The bal­ance between hor­ror and com­edy, debauch­ery and per­son­i­fi­ca­tion are per­fect and the campy, yet sur­real atmos­phere is almost magical.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 24, 2013

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