Dance with Snakes (Biblioasis Translations)

Dance with Snakes (Biblioasis Translations)

author: Horacio Castellanos Moya

name: Steev

average rating: 3.81

book published: 2009

rating: 5

read at: 2010/03/19

date added: 2010/03/22

shelves: fun, novels, own-it, politics

This slim novel is brutal but hilarious in tone, mixing extreme and graphic violence with absurd humor and a satiric take on various elements of society, including police, the military, politicians, the press, and the paranoia and mass hysteria of everyday people. It's like Tarantino crossed with Kafka.

A down-and-out, unemployed sociologist meets a homeless weirdo that lives in a car with 4 snakes. He ends up taking the guy's place, befriending the serpents, and going on a murderous rampage with them, who are so deadly that they can pretty much defeat any foe and kill dozens in seconds, and so they throw the whole city into a panic. Journalists and cops rush around trying to figure out some method to the madness, but the drifter is really just acting randomly and having a good time.

I have a feeling that if I knew more about the background history and politics that this book would be more obvious as a some sort of allegory for El Salvador's current situation and civil war past. I think Moya seems to be saying something about the inherent instability and fragility of life in a place so recently subject to the hell of death squads and corruption and repression, but I have only a tenuous grasp on exactly what his message is. Still, I enjoyed the book a lot.