It takes a while for Artemio to die

I just want to finish a book, so can you just die now? – The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

I am not sure if I am enjoying this book. Reading about an old man on his deathbed could mean a lot of flashbacks and nostalgia, and that is fine with me. This dying man, Artemio Cruz, is very articulate, so the narrative is brilliant. And Carlos Fuentes is a revelation, so why am I unsure of what to feel about this?

The writing shifts to different tenses, perspectives, narrators, settings, and points-of-view almost seamlessly. So yes, it’s a little challenging to read this novel. It’s written unconventionally. The parts are broken into dates that do not follow a straight timeline, yet the present and the future keeps meddling with the past. One can get lost in a single page. Like a llama. I’m plagiarizing someone with the llama, and I can’t help it.

Probably I don’t like the protagonist. He’s too wordy. I’m all for verbosity, but I want my narrators to have neat and precise diction. I don’t mind long novels, but if it takes a writer two to three pages to make a single point, that’s a different matter.

And please stop repeating something already well-established for another two to three pages.

I could forgive that, the repeating, if I get something from it, like if it’s an emphasis thing or a stylistic thing or something important. But if it’s just to shock the reader with the subject of say, fucked mothers, with those two words used twice on every line for two to three pages, try harder. Profanity does not work for me. And that goes to you, too, Henry Miller.

Allow me to present this semi-random quotation. It’s one of the litanies of Artemio Cruz while his family is waiting for his final croaking.

… mussels and squid, octopus and seviche, I think about beer, as bitter as seawater, beer, I think about venison Yucatán-style, I think about the fact that I’m not old, no, although one day I was, in front of the mirror, and stinking cheeses, how I love them, I think, I want, how that relieves me, how it bores me to hear my own exact, insinuating, authoritarian voice acting out that same role, always, what a bother, when I could have been eating, eating: I eat, I sleep, I fornicate, and the rest of it – what? what? what? who wants to eat sleep fornicate with my money? You Padilla and you Catalina and you Teresa and you Gerardo and you Paquito Padilla – is that your name? – the one who’s been chewing on my granddaughter’s lips in the half-light of my room or of this room, you who are still young, because I don’t live here, you are young, I know how to live well, that’s why I don’t live here, I’m an old man, is that right? An old man filled with manias, who has a perfect right to have them because he screwed himself, see? He screwed himself screwing everyone else, he chose just in time, like that night, ah, I’ve already remembered it, that night, that word, that woman. Why can’t they give me something to eat? why? Get out: oh, what pain: get out: motherfuckers.

A little trivia: I am not sure what a motherfucker is. Is it what I think it is?

Date Started: February 2, 2012. 8:30 PM. Book #05 of 2012.