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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This may not be Fuente's greatest work. but it has the fingerprints of a master all over it.Dec 7 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
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
Terrifying in its simplicityOct. 12 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
"Be careful. At any moment I might show up and surprise you."Nov. 23 2013
Michael J. Ettner
- Published on Amazon.com
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 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An Invigorating Dark ComedySept. 24 2012
Man of La Book
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
Tonal problemsDec 17 2014
W. Joe Taylor
- Published on Amazon.com
An update of Dracula, with the obligatory, “I don’t drink . . . wine” line. I’ve got to say that I expected more in general of this novel. Though there are creepy moments, about four full pages of second-hand gore—-by second-hand I mean “historical” in relating Vlad’s origins—-provide the bulk of horror. I found those pages and their gore gratuitous. As far as the allegory bit about consumerism that some reviewers found—-I didn’t see it. Lawyers galore, yes, but lawyers gotta eat too, yes? I suppose one of the better creepy parts comes with the ending confrontation between ten-year-old daughter and father: “Daddy, I bet you didn’t know that squirrels’ teeth grow inside until they pierce the top of their heads.” His daughter then stuffs a live squirrel into her panties. This scene is followed rapidly by a confrontation between husband and wife, wherein the wife confesses that she enjoys the dangerous sex with Vlad and is bored with her husband. These concluding pages are mostly fine. The idea of God being “unfinished” like a child is also intriguing. For me, though, it was too little, too late. The novel’s overall problem lies in . . . its overall tone. While there are creepy parts, as mentioned, these parts are not pervasive enough to be atmospheric, much less build. And while the narrator is a naïve doofus, he is not exaggerated enough to form a comic or allegoric platform for the novel. Lastly, while there are fine philosophical and psychological insights, these do not appear with the frequency nor the intensity to involve a reader’s intellectual commitment. Alas.