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Asleep in the Sun (New York Review Books…
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Asleep in the Sun (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1973; edition 2004)

by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Suzanne Jill Levine (Translator), James Sallis (Introduction)

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194561,408 (3.62)21
Member:CGlanovsky
Title:Asleep in the Sun (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:Adolfo Bioy Casares
Other authors:Suzanne Jill Levine (Translator), James Sallis (Introduction)
Info:
Collections:Read & Owned, A Personal Library, Your library (inactive)
Rating:***
Tags:Argentina, S. America, Translated, Spanish Language, Romance Language, Latin American, 1950-1999, Magic Realism, 20th Century, NYRB, Borgesian

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Asleep in the Sun by Adolfo Bioy Casares (1973)

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Showing 5 of 5
'Asleep in the Sun' is an excellent book that suffers at times from what I believe is rather clunky prose. I don't feel inclined to spoil it, although the reviewers below have noted that the back cover does so excellently, but the plotting, symbolism and allegory of the story work consistently well throughout the book, and are more or less Casares at his finest.
However, certain sentences just don't work particularly well; I'm unsure whether this is a bad translation or just an hallmark of Casares' writing style. If you're fine with Murakami's lumbering, disjointed sentences, you'll have no issues with this, but I appreciate a sentence that fits together in the ingenious way that it can, and while this book is fantastically written, the writing itself is frequently very far from excellent.
That said, I still very much enjoyed the book and would wholeheartedly recommend it, albeit with the aforementioned reservations. I'll see if I can read it in Spanish; I'm curious to find how to the translation compares to the original work. ( )
  wpotash | Oct 12, 2014 |
Lucio Bordenave lives in a modest home in a small alley, along with his wife Diana, a woman of modest beauty and frequent, unpredictable tempers, and Doña Ceferina, an older relative who serves as the couple's housekeeper but excels at stirring up trouble between them and Diana's cantankerous family. Lucio is also surrounded by meddlesome neighbors who offer less than helpful advice on his troubled marriage, and his only escape is to his room, where he earns a profitable living as a repairer of clocks.

A friend of Diana's, noting her difficult behavior, encourages Lucio to have her committed to a nearby mental institution, as the man is a close friend of the head physician there, who he thinks can help her. Lucio reluctantly does so, but almost immediately regrets his decision. When she is released weeks later she is a changed woman, happy and full of life and love for her husband, but Lucio realizes that something isn't quite right, even though likes the "new" Diana considerably better. He visits the friend who recommended Diana's institutionalization, then returns to the asylum, where he makes a discovery that is shocking to him and a threat to his marriage and to the residents of his community.

Asleep in the Sun is a surreal and allegorical novel, mixed with wry humor, menace and a touch of magical realism. This is normally the type of book that I thoroughly enjoy; however, unlike The Obscene Bird of Night, the brilliant novel by José Donoso, I found myself far less interested in Casares' characters or the plot as a whole. Part of the reason may be that I read the description of the book on its back cover, which negatively influenced my approach to the novel, as other reviewers have said. It was an moderately enjoyable read, albeit a disappointing one, and I may give it another chance in the future to see if I like it better on a second reading. ( )
  kidzdoc | Nov 3, 2013 |
Do not read the back of the book. It is on account of this book that I have begun to read the descriptions on the flaps and backs of books very cautiously and prepared to stop immediately in the event that things start to seem spoiler-y. It actually bothers me that I will never know what it's like to read this book fresh and without expectations. I sometimes wonder how different my opinion of it would be if it weren't for the massive disappointment of finding out that the synopsis on the back was actually a straight-up description of the twist at the end. As it is, I still liked the book, but not nearly as much as "The Invention of Morel" by the same author (which i think was probably the book VeronicaH, another reviewer, was looking for) which I read unspoiled and ranks in my top 50. That's right, I'm a huge nerd; I have system for ranking what I read. FYI, "Asleep in the Sun" came in at #162, just ahead of "My Life and Hard Times" and just behind "The Book of Imaginary Beings".

Be warned, read, and enjoy as I never could. ( )
  CGlanovsky | Nov 10, 2012 |
I picked up this book because it was mentioned as one of the possible theories for what was happening in the TV show Lost. It took me a while to get through it because it is a slow, quite book. Once I finally decided to sit and finish it, I read it in one sitting. I won't say too much so that I don't reveal the conceit, but the book is quite good and worth a read on a lazy or indoor-weather Sunday afternoon. While it won't help with Lost or raise any hairs on you head, it will help you consider memory, loss, and the impermanance of human lives. ( )
  VeronicaH. | Nov 29, 2011 |
If you are in love with someone, what do you love most about them, their body or their soul? If it is real life-long love, then of course you love their soul the most. The body, while beautiful in youth, withers and ages over time. It is how that person thinks, how they react, how they love, how they live, that you love the most. However, in reality, there are shortcomings and things you don’t like in the person. After all, they are human. The message of this book is that you should embrace those shortcomings. Those little things that you don’t like help to make up the whole person. And you love the whole person, not just part of them. This story, this book, is not a typical love story. It is quirky. It is absurd. It is, at some points, silly. I almost dare to say it is somewhat “Kafkaesque” with a little Bulgakov thrown in. But the meaning behind it is deadly serious. And the love that the main character has for his wife is that real, life-long love. Octavio Paz described another one of Casares's books in the following quote, which I believe could fit here as well: “The body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom. Love is a privileged perception, the most total and lucid not only of the unreality of the world but of our own unreality: not only do we traverse a realm of shadows; we ourselves are shadows.”

One thing I didn’t like is that the back of the book contains a spoiler. It describes what is actually happening. The book doesn’t actually tell you what is going on until close to the end, however you can begin to figure it out around the middle. But there is no need to spell it out on the back of the book. I can’t figure out why the publisher decided to do that.

This was a very enjoyable read that will stay with me a long time. ( )
2 vote Quixada | Aug 14, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525485376, Paperback)

Lucio, a normal man in a normal (nosy) city neighborhood with normal problems with his wife (not the easiest person to get along with) and family and job (he lost it) finds he has a much bigger problem: his wife is a dog. At first, it doesn't seem like such a problem, because the German shepherd inhabiting his wife's body is actually a good deal more agreeable than his wife herself, now occupying the body of the same German shepherd in a mental hospital run by scientists who, it appears, have designs on the whole neighborhood. But then Lucio has a sense, however confused, of what's right, which is an even bigger problem yet.
Asleep in the Sun is the great work of the Argentine master Adolfo Bioy Casares's later years. Like his legendary Invention of Morel, it is an intoxicating mixture of fantasy, sly humor, and menace. Whether read as a fable of modern politics, a meditation on the elusive parameters of the self, or a most unusual love story, Bioy's book is an almost scarily perfect comic turn, as well as a pure delight.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:50 -0400)

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