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Dance with Snakes [Paperback]

Horacio Castellanos Moya , Lee Paula Springer

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Book Description

Sept. 15 2009 Biblioasis Translations
As El Salvador returns to peace after more than a decade of civil war, Eduardo Sosa, an unemployed sociologist, becomes fascinated by a homeless man who lives in a beat-up yellow Chevrolet parked across the street from his sister’s apartment. An unexpected turn of events causes Sosa to assume the other man’s identity. When he becomes the driver of the mysterious yellow Chevrolet, Sosa discovers that it is home to four poisonous snakes. With the snakes as accomplices, Sosa unleashes a reign of terror on the city of San Salvador. Dance With Snakes is a macabre high-speed romp, in which violence and comedy become almost indistinguishable.  The non-stop action raises provocative questions about social exclusion and the role of the media, but this novel by the author of the acclaimed Senselessness also evokes the tenderness of relations among those on society’s margins. 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Biblioasis; 1 edition (Sept. 15 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189723161X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897231616
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 13.1 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #759,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

""Dance With Snakes" is harrowing and violent, a deliberate and relentless effort to shock the reader. And, you will be shocked. There is something in here for everyone, to the extent that all boundaries are crossed and morals broken into insignificant pieces. Yet it is the ease with which Moya shows this happening that is the novel's greatest strength."--Damian Kelleher"A romping, violent farce"--Ron Slate""Dance with Snakes" is the more "pulse-pounding" of the two novels, for sure, but both offer up incredible characterizations and Moya's takes on the political situation in Latin America, with plenty of barbs directed at religion and the police. Hopefully we will see more of his fiction translated in the coming years."--"Rain Taxi""The raw yet aloof descriptions of brutality throughout the novel keep the reader fully engaged."--"The Uniter"

About the Author

Horacio Castellanos Moya was born in 1957 in Honduras, but grew up in El Salvador. He has lived in Guatemala, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain and Germany. His work has been translated into German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. His novel Senselessness was published in English to universal critical acclaim in 2008 by New Directions. He has published eight novels and is now living in exile as part of the City of Asylum project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wild ride March 29 2010
By Joshua Mandelbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I consider myself pretty well read, but Dance with Snakes is perhaps the wildest book I've picked up in a long time if not ever. Realism and sanity are thrown out the window for what is one part Tarantino-esque blood bath another part descent into madness. I feel it is a novel I will have to read again to truly understand and appreciate fully, but it was certainly enjoyable on the first go around.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious novella about post-civil war El Salvador Nov. 3 2009
By Darryl R. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was wacky as hell; I loved it!

In post-civil war El Salvador lives Eduardo Sosa, a sociologist who is out of work and lives with his sister in her tiny apartment. Eduardo is friendly enough, but "not quite right". The woman who runs the local market encourages him to find out more about a mysterious newcomer, who lives in a beat-up yellow Chevrolet that is parked in front of the market, across from his sister's apartment. He follows the unwashed and bedraggled man, named Jacinto Bustillo, who tells Eduardo that was a successful accountant that was forced into poverty and homelessness by his deceitful wife. The men go to the outskirts of town, where Don Jacinto murders a man who performs fellatio on him. Eduardo then kills Jacinto, grabs his keys, and prepares to take up residence in the Chevrolet. He soon discovers that it is occupied by four poisonous female snakes, who are fluent in Spanish and soon become enamored with Eduardo.

Eduardo assumes the persona of Don Jacinto, and enacts revenge, with the eager help of the snakes, against Doña Bustillo and the husband of his mistress whose affair led to his downfall. Numerous innocent citizens also succumb to the snakes' taste for violence. The entire country goes on alert, as the sensationalist media and panicked law enforcement and government officials fear for their lives and the stability of the country.

"Dance with Snakes" was one of the most entertaining books I've read this year, and as I mentioned previously, it was one of the weirdest, after The Obscene Bird of Night. Highly recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing... Oct. 30 2010
By Bryan Byrd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
But what wouldn't be after Mr. Moya's amazing Senselessness? Reminiscent of Javier Marias' Voyage Along the Horizon in that both works showcase the early incarnations of the polished writers still to come, Mr. Moya's toughest competition here is himself. If, after these earlier novels, either one of these two men had stopped writing, it would have been a serious loss, though it's possible Marias' book may have had some small life of it's own. 'Dances with Snakes', on the other hand, would probably not - instead, it rides on the coattails of the much better 'Senselessness' in order to stave off obscurity.

Eduardo Sosa becomes attached to Jacinto Bustillo, a homeless man living in his car. After some unexpected events occurring while the two men go out for a drink, Eduardo assumes the place of Bustillo, not realizing that the homeless man had shared his vehicle with four deadly snakes. Slowly, the snakes accept Sosa as Bustillo's replacement, and whether it is all in Sosa's head or not, he begins to communicate with the reptiles. Together, they plan revenge on all the people who had brought Jacinto Bustillo to his degraded state in the first place. From there on, Sosa's coordinated snake attacks on population centers throughout the city incite panic all the way from street level to the highest members of the government.

Whether Mr. Moya was trying to exploit the style of Magical Realism, or whether the character of Sosa is unstable and simply hallucinating does not seem to make much difference. Neither does the question of whether there are any hidden subtexts or allegories within the text - it's very likely there are at least some - the point is that 'Dances with Snakes' suffers from a more elemental problem than these advanced issues. Although both 'Senselessness' and 'Snakes' are short enough to read in one sitting, there was a complexity of detail in the more mature work that is lacking here. 'Snakes' reads like a young novelist who is in such a rush to get his story on paper that the necessary crafting of characters falls by the wayside. Instead, Mr. Moya makes the choice to tell his story in four parts, from three different points of view, which only fragments the narrative further, and needlessly. Plus, as Sosa and his snakes move from one chaotic attack to another (culminating in one the oddest, silliest love scenes you will ever read in a 'conventional' novel), it seems as though humor was inspiration for the novel. How well that humor works for the individual reader will go a long way toward how well he enjoys the entire book. This reader found it strained.

It shouldn't be surprising that the earlier work is flawed - or at least not as accomplished - but based purely on the ingenious storytelling in 'Senselessness', I still look forward to reading The She-Devil in the Mirror (New Directions Paperbook) (written after 'Snakes' but before 'Senselessness'), and, of course, any new works by Mr. Moya. I would even go so far as to say that I look forward to trying Mr. Moya's earlier works also, as they become translated, since, if nothing else, 'Dances with Snakes' was certainly an unusual work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars June 30 2014
By Thalassinoides - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brilliant, corrosive and hilarious. Castellanos Moya takes no prisoners.

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