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Vlad [Hardcover]

Carlos Fuentes
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

July 18 2012

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?


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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Modern day Mexican Vampire Story Sept. 7 2012
By David Terrence Cheney TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a remake of the Dracula story set in Mexico City in modern times. Told by someone else, it would be predictable and dull but Fuentes is good at creepy. Not as good as Aura but a good read in one sitting. I am not a fan of horror, just a fan of Fuentes.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This may not be Fuente's greatest work. but it has the fingerprints of a master all over it. Dec 7 2012
By Noovella - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fuentes reinvents the Bram Stoker classic in Mexico City, when the count makes the journey from the old country to the new world with a specific goal in mind.

Before he joined the undead, through a ten-year-old girl vampire, he was the fourteen century Romanian ruler, Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula. If you don't know Vlad his unspeakable crimes are listed here. And they are not what terrifies you in this well-written short novel filled with graphic imagery.

It is the earnest attorney, Yves Navarro, who is tasked with Vlad's move to Mexico. Dark humor pervades the new tenant's many odd requests such as blackened windows, escape tunnel, and multiple drains.

Yves's domestic life appears tranquil, despite the loss of his eleven-year-old son, who disappeared in the ocean on a beach outing. He and his wife, Asunción, and his little girl live the middle class life. But it is the loss of their son that has opened the door for evil to enter the family.

This tale is more than a horror story; it also reveals the ignorance of ignoring or not noticing problems until it is too late. The reader always knows more than the clueless Yves. The vampire has his eyes on his wife and littler girl.

The book is comical at times with Vlad's fake toupee and mustache, but this novella is truly scary and horrible. Fuentes is an amazing stylist, and the story will creep you out and fill you with terror. This may not be Fuente's greatest work. but it has the fingerprints of a master all over it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying in its simplicity Oct. 12 2012
By readlikebreathing - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I think this may be one of my favorite re-imagined versions of Dracula since the original. The book is incredibly short, only about 100 pages as opposed to the Stoker version which is somewhere upwards of 500. But in that incredibly short space of time, Fuentes manages to create a story more chilling than the original. It's a must read for the Halloween season.

The story takes place in present day Mexico city, and though a lot of the story is cut out, the elements that remain are absolutely terrifying. It's the small things that Fuentes kept which helped retain the terror. The creepy aspects of the Count's appearance the main character couldn't explain or rationalize, the terrifying sidekick of the Count's, the oddly sexualized moments the stand in for Harker couldn't contend with, subtle things like the lack of mirrors.

However Fuentes takes it a step further, and in a modern day Dracula's house adds subtle touches that both make the Count seem more technilogically savy, as well as more terrifying. At one point something so gruesome happened I thought I would be sick, but in very much the same way Stoker handles it.

All together I love this book, which is published by the Dalkey Archive Press; An non-profit publisher that operates out the University of Illinois. Definitely go check them out, because they publish a lot of international books like this one that get overlooked by major publishers.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Invigorating Dark Comedy Sept. 24 2012
By Man of La Book - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars "Be careful. At any moment I might show up and surprise you." Nov. 23 2013
By Michael J. Ettner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Count Vladimir Radu of Wallachia -- Vlad the Impaler, scourge of fifteenth-century Central Europe -- comes to contemporary Mexico City to settle down and resume the terrors necessary to sustain his eternal life.

If at first the premise sounds to you like a pitch made by a desperate screenwriter to a bunch of schlock-meister cable network execs, don't be misled. In the hands of a purposeful writer like Carlos Fuentes, an author of broad perspective and fluent literary skills, the conventional story line of vampire genre fiction mutates into a compelling allegory. The result is sly -- and deadly serious.

What Fuentes cares about is the unnervingly wayward state of our moral condition. I suspect he approached the writing of this book as an experiment testing whether, through the aura of the Devil, his message of warning could be freshly conveyed. I, for one, think Fuentes achieved his goal.

From the very start of "Vlad" the Devil's infiltration is felt. Page by page small stitches are added to the story's fabric, new notes of dread harbored in a word, a phrase, a gesture, an observation.

The first chapter introduces us to an aged attorney who heads a politically connected firm where the narrator, also an attorney, is employed. This old "holy terror" is a man of "moral flexibility" who comes from "obscure origins." He has "slithered" from one presidential administration to the next, growing in power while displaying "superficial courtesy and empty praise." He behavior is always accompanied by an "ironic smile." Later, in the fourth of 14 short chapters, when Count Vladimir Radu himself is introduced to us ("All my friends call me Vlad," he says), the narrator's reaction is simply this: "He looked like a ridiculous marionette." This blithe judgment is soon replaced by chilling discoveries about Vlad's mission, with terrible consequences for the narrator, his wife, and his daughter.

It's no surprise that, at bottom, Fuentes is a moralist. He views our day and age as an arena in which it's easy to find ageless signs of evil. "Vlad" shows how evil insinuates itself into the work environment, corrupts professional duties, and sunders the most intimate of family relationships. In every sphere of life, Fuentes wants us to understand, the temptations of the Devil and his minions are here to provoke the fall of men and the malfunctioning of society.

Although the novel is dark, Fuentes does not forget to give expression to his lyrical talents. In the middle of an evening conversation at the decaying mansion of his boss, the narrator pauses to notice how "the light from the burning logs played on our faces like murky remains of sunlight." A tender recollection of the loss of a child is delivered in heart-breaking language. It ends with a cadence: "This absence that is a presence. This silence that seeks voice. This portrait forever trapped in childhood..."

Adding seasoning to the swiftly told story of "Vlad" are Fuentes' signature interests in issues of social class and politics. One theme I found thought-provoking is the notion that honest work is the most effective antidote to evil. Yet as with any such prescription, this guidance comes with bad side effects. I suspect Fuentes, when introducing the idea, may have had in mind the contrary opinion of the Mexican-born early Marxist, Paul Lafargue, who in his 1883 treatise, (The Right to Be Lazy: Essays by Paul Lafargue), declared the work ethic to be a vampire sucking the blood of modern society.

A final mention should be made of the prominence of attorneys in this tale. They -- and by extension the legal system -- are repeated targets of Fuentes' satire ("the lawyer never spoke without a specific ulterior motive"). "Vlad" would make a great gift for your favorite, or better still, the least favorite -- attorney in your life.
2.0 out of 5 stars Weakened Fuentes Nov. 16 2013
By Shivaji Das - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
It comes out as a hushed through job by Fuentes, perhaps faced with the stake of a publisher's deadline. The story is in essence an attempt to discuss the dissatisfactions that simmer in an otherwise seemingly perfect relationship, waiting to explode for years and finally grabbing an opportunity, even if it means bringing about enormous turbulence in life. All this is fair enough, but the execution of the novel is far too direct; the protagonist philosophizing about true love when his wife and only surviving daughter could be killed soon; Gross violations of the rules of writing as set by Fuentes' contemporary Mario Vargas Llosa.
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