Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat


The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa | LibraryThing

* A 1001 Books Book

Vargas, L. M., & Grossman, E. (2001). The Feast of the Goat. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. 9780374154769

I eventually picked up The Feast of the Goat for a few reasons – my latent interest in turbulent Dominican history, the book’s listing as a “Core” 1001 Books Book, and writer Vargas Llosa’s recent status as a Nobel Prize Laureate. Ironically, I finished the book around the fiftieth anniversary of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina’s assassination. So, I pulled this book off one of HCPL’s shelves.

Vargas Llosa offers three distinctly different storylines throughout the book –  the fictitious Urania Cabral in the 1990s, Trujillo’s assassins, and then Trujillo/El Jefe/The Goat. on his last day – 30 May 1961. The author alternates between these three points of view.

Storyline 1 – In the 1990s, successful attorney Urania returns to her native Dominican Republic for the first time in years. She visits her invalid father, the once powerful Secretary of State Agustin Cabral. Agustin fell out of favor El Jefe. Urania angrily recalls her last days in the DR with Agustin. Later, Urania relates her nightmarish coming of age to her aunt and cousins. The Cabral family was created by Vargas Llosa.

Storyline 2 – the assassins lie in wait on 30 May 1961 for Trujillo. These real-life killers are Antonio Imbert Barrera, Antonio de la Maza, Salvador Estrella Sadhalá – “Turk,” and Amado García Guerrero – Amadito. Each one bears the scars for want The Goat dead. Vargas Llosa based his characters on actual people.

Storyline 3 – Trujillo lives out his last day. El Jefe reminisces about his despotic career, his family, tough relations on the world stage, and his regular deflowering of young girls. Vargas Llosa took an actual dictator and made him even more villainous.

Vargas Llosa recreates the last days of the Trujillo Regime quite vividly. The feelings of desperation, hopelessness, and machismo pervade. The truest rendering of characters were the ones the author made up – the Cabrals. I found the “real people” rather suspect.

I’m happy I read this book because I could see connections to the writings of both Junot Díaz and Julia Alvarez. I wonder if Díaz used the name Cabral as a tribute to The Feast of the Goat. However, I found some parts – especially those from The Goat’s point of view, tedious and disgusting. I felt a need to wash out my eyes or something. Also, I liked that Urania found some peace in sharing her experience with the women of her family.

Three and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Antonio Morel y Su Orquesta feat Macabi “El Chivo”

Places : The Dominican Republic, The United States

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Lisa Jardine’s The awful end of Prince William the Silent . . .


The Awful End of Prince William the Silent by Lisa Jardine

Jardine, L. (2005). The awful end of Prince William the Silent: The first assassination of a head of state with a handgun. New York: HarperCollins. 9780060838355

My reasons for reading this book were threefold. First of all, I’m an amateur genealogist and discovered in 2010 that I may have descended from Prince William himself. Secondly, I’ve long enjoyed reading biographies and thought the True Crime genre aspect added some interest to it. Additionally, I found the reaction of William’s contemporaries to also be intriguing. Lastly, I registered to participate in 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. After requesting the purchase, I happily checked out the book from HCPL.

In summary, Jardine gives the reader an overview of Protestant Prince William of Orange’s assassination by a French Catholic. Also, she sets the scene of young Holland’s struggle to overthrow the Hapsburg’s Catholic rule. She ends by describing the reactions of Elizabeth I and the birth of a nasty trend; taking out governmental leaders with bullets.

I thought Jardine did a great job in describing the players central to this episode of history. She drew Prince William, the Hapsburgs, and Balthasar Gérard very clearly. Jardine covered the points necessary without pedanticalness and I certainly appreciated that!

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: The Netherlands, Germany, England, Spain, France

Song: “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” by Fall Out Boy
 
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  • The Wicked History Series by various authors
  • Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson
  • The Cop Who Wouldn’t Quit by Rick Nelson
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

For more on Lisa Jardine’s The awful end of Prince William the Silent: The first assassination of a head of state with a handgun, check out the following links: