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A high-octane paranoia deranges a writer and fuels a dangerous plan to return home to El Salvador. Drinking way too much and breaking up with his wife, an exiled journalist in Mexico City dreams of returning home to El Salvador. But is it really a dream or a nightmare? When he decides to treat his liver pain with hypnosis, his few impulse-control mechanisms rapidly dissolve A high-octane paranoia deranges a writer and fuels a dangerous plan to return home to El Salvador. Drinking way too much and breaking up with his wife, an exiled journalist in Mexico City dreams of returning home to El Salvador. But is it really a dream or a nightmare? When he decides to treat his liver pain with hypnosis, his few impulse-control mechanisms rapidly dissolve. Hair-brained schemes, half-mad arguments, unraveling murder plots, hysterical rants: everything escalates at a maniacal pace, especially the crazy humor.


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A high-octane paranoia deranges a writer and fuels a dangerous plan to return home to El Salvador. Drinking way too much and breaking up with his wife, an exiled journalist in Mexico City dreams of returning home to El Salvador. But is it really a dream or a nightmare? When he decides to treat his liver pain with hypnosis, his few impulse-control mechanisms rapidly dissolve A high-octane paranoia deranges a writer and fuels a dangerous plan to return home to El Salvador. Drinking way too much and breaking up with his wife, an exiled journalist in Mexico City dreams of returning home to El Salvador. But is it really a dream or a nightmare? When he decides to treat his liver pain with hypnosis, his few impulse-control mechanisms rapidly dissolve. Hair-brained schemes, half-mad arguments, unraveling murder plots, hysterical rants: everything escalates at a maniacal pace, especially the crazy humor.

30 review for The Dream of My Return

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Born in Honduras in 1957 and raised in El Salvador, Horacio Castellanos Moya attended college in Toronto. He returned to El Salvador in 1980 in the teeth of a popular uprising against the government and witnessed the massacre of unarmed students and workers which prompted him to travel to Costa Rica and then Mexico where he became a journalist. When it came time to write novels, his list includes Senseless, a tale of a sex-obsessed alcoholic writer hired by the Catholic Church to clean up a lengt Born in Honduras in 1957 and raised in El Salvador, Horacio Castellanos Moya attended college in Toronto. He returned to El Salvador in 1980 in the teeth of a popular uprising against the government and witnessed the massacre of unarmed students and workers which prompted him to travel to Costa Rica and then Mexico where he became a journalist. When it came time to write novels, his list includes Senseless, a tale of a sex-obsessed alcoholic writer hired by the Catholic Church to clean up a lengthy government report on the torture and eventual slaughter of thousands of innocent villagers; She-Devil in the Mirror where a woman investigates the cold blooded murder of her best friend, a murder taking place in her friend’s own living room in front of her two young daughters; Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador, written as a furious one paragraph rant on the injustices committed against the people of El Salvador, a book that earned the novelist death threats. One work of the author's I find particularly compelling is his short story Confinement where we listen in on what goes through the mind of an El Salvador guerrilla in hiding, confined to a room in a home of a family sympathetic to his cause. The guerrilla feels trapped in the hot room; he’d like to have a drink. If he could live his life over again, he’d live exactly as his instincts dictate; after all, he joined the revolution out of instinct, like a tiger sniffing out its prey. And when he gets out? He’d be happy, ready to dive back into the city, a good thing, like being born again. In The Dream of My Return we likewise listen in on the thoughts of a man in crisis, this time its Erasmo, a journalist from El Salvador who is currently living in exile in Mexico City. Erasmo shares much in common with that guerrilla in hiding: he experiences exile as a confinement; he yearns to dive back into his native El Salvador and thus be reborn as the new Erasmo; last but hardly least, he could use a drink. Actually, there’s more than just Erasmo’s thoughts – we also listen in on his conversations with his family and fellow exiles and follow his movements and actions in and around Mexico City. But since there are no breaks in the long paragraphs from first page to last, it’s as if dialogue and discussion, events and encounters are all contained within the journalist’s stream-of-consciousness, as if the outside world is compressed inside Erasmo - the mind as restricted to a hot room; the mind as insurgent guerrilla. I read The Dream of My Return over the course of two weeks. At 135 pages the novel is short enough to finish in one or two sittings but I wanted to remain with the narrator, suffering through his crisis, feeling the full impact of his plight as he lives in a pressure cooker with the temperature turned up again and again in all sorts of ways. And that’s all sorts of ways as in the following: Suspicion, Paranoia, Fear: Erasmo can’t go to a doctor without sensing he could be poisoned; he can’t converse with his fellow Salvadorians without looking around to see if any of the men or women in the room are enemy informants. After all, there are so many enemies – agents of the El Salvador military government and the American CIA, to name just two. Drinking: In many respects, Erasmo is his own worst enemy – he knows he shouldn’t drink; fueled by alcohol, he might fly into a rage and usually wind up returning home only to pass out on the living room couch and wake up the next morning with a pounding headache and intolerable stomach pains. But he has oh so many issues to deal with and having a drink is such an enjoyable, effective quick fix, at least in the short term. Doctor Visits: One of the more fascinating parts of the novel finds our journalist in intense physical agony, forcing him to seek out an old retired friend of the family, a physician by the name of Don Chente who convinces his patient to undergo hypnosis. But there are consequences of his hypnosis sessions: having vivid nightmares as well as “telling the story of my life had turned into an unanticipated labor that threatened to foment dangerous internal chaos.” If this isn’t enough, Erasmo continually conjectures what he might have revealed under hypnosis, reason to cause even further alarm. Memory: Discussions with Don Chente lead to past memories, including how his father was shot in the back for political reasons, how his maternal grandmother turning him against his mother and most especially his father, a man she hated even after he was murdered. A one point he acknowledges he was “a traumatized child who broke out in tears of dread at the shriek of a siren.” Dissolved marriage: His relationship with wife Eva has turned into unending torment – fanning the fires of domestic hell is Eva admitting she had an affair with an actor by the name of Antolín. And there’s his little daughter Evita pulling at his heartstrings. Murder: Erasmo discusses with Mr. Rabbit, a former Salvadorian guerrilla, his wish to kill the man who turned him into a cuckold - the actor Antolín. Was this wise? Mr. Rabbit swings into action and hands Erasmo the hot chamber of the weapon he used to do the deed. Now the anxious journalist has even more worries. The Return: He must be nuts!! Does he really plan to take a flight to his home land where chances are he will be greeted at the airport by military police and promptly lead to prison where he will be tortured and shot? But then again, El Salvador might be just the place to rejuvenate his guilt-racked life. His makes his final decision but not until the very last paragraph. In this way, Horacio Castellanos Moya has written a thriller. "Where had I drummed up such naïve, even suicidal enthusiasm that allowed me to disguise the dream of my return not only as a stimulating adventure but also as my first step toward changing my life for the better? What made me think that the Salvadoran military would understand that I was not a guerrilla fighter but rather an independent journalist, that they would simply forget the stacks of articles I had written against them, the military, during my Mexican exile?

  2. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    The Latin American novel is rife with rambling first-person narrators prone to digressions and seeming plot dead-ends (see the maestros Infante and Bolaño for more), and this short entertaining novel continues in that tradition with a frenetic narrator receiving treatment for his nerves from doctor Don Chente as his marriage decomposes, and his rage towards his wife’s lover rises to a murderous pitch, and a sequence of other events occur of varying interest as he plans his return to El Salvador The Latin American novel is rife with rambling first-person narrators prone to digressions and seeming plot dead-ends (see the maestros Infante and Bolaño for more), and this short entertaining novel continues in that tradition with a frenetic narrator receiving treatment for his nerves from doctor Don Chente as his marriage decomposes, and his rage towards his wife’s lover rises to a murderous pitch, and a sequence of other events occur of varying interest as he plans his return to El Salvador at the end of the civil war. Not as humorous as the blurb indicates, not a patch on Mr. Bernhard, but pleasing for the two hours reading time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    8.5/10 While the setting may be the Salvadoran Civil War, which the history books poignantly describe as having lasted 12 years, 3 months and 1 day between 1979 and 1992, my mind couldn't help but drift to every other war, conflict, struggle, (whatever the name!) that put people of good faith and conscience in exile. This is more a long, lyrical dirge to displacement, it seems to me, than it is to any specific time and place. It is equally about the guilt that survivors carry, far away from their 8.5/10 While the setting may be the Salvadoran Civil War, which the history books poignantly describe as having lasted 12 years, 3 months and 1 day between 1979 and 1992, my mind couldn't help but drift to every other war, conflict, struggle, (whatever the name!) that put people of good faith and conscience in exile. This is more a long, lyrical dirge to displacement, it seems to me, than it is to any specific time and place. It is equally about the guilt that survivors carry, far away from their homeland, impotent to help the loved ones left behind, powerless to engage in any meaningful way to redress what went wrong back home. I worry about the generations of people that we are creating: what damage to the psyche to live in a constant state of violence, the soul absorbing anger, guilt, rage, sorrow, in a constant stream, taken in through the very pores of their skin, day in day out, for years, sometimes for decades. What damaged souls are emerging from these wars, these souls scarred beyond description; some of them scarred beyond help. What nightmares do they live through, after the nightmare of real-world conflict is past? What dreams these people must have. It is no surprise that people who survive carry the guilt of survival by mere association. It would be a dream I would have every night of my life, so I understand clearly why our protagonist is in a constant state of fear, anxiety, paranoia: it is only guilt, speaking through the breath of conscience. [A dream ]... when I killed someone but without a specific memory of the act, the anguish produced by the guilt and the fear of having killed somebody without remembering the act or the victim, that was the end of the nightmare, from which I'd abruptly woken, needless to say, but without experiencing any relief from the aforementioned anxiety; I spent a long time lying in bed deeply shaken because something inside me was telling me that the dream was not a dream but rather a message from my unconscious, and that I had probably killed someone and now had no memory of it -- my psyche had erased the fact, who knows when or how. Remembering that nightmare ... had upset me every time I'd remembered it; it gave me a kind of vertigo, as if I were at the edge of a black hole whose unknown strength might at any moment viciously suck me in and carry me off to a reality that I could not possibly imagine, the very possibility of which horrified me beyond all reason. It seems the damage done gets worse with each succeeding atrocity and the world is becoming a very hotbed of paranoia, depression and madness. Where will it end? An interesting question is posed in the final chapter: is it possible to re-enter the conflict to work through the madness from within; or is it better to stay away and find some semblance of peace from the outside? Highly recommended. He's a writer who has gotten under my skin. Thanks to Glenn and his superb review for having introduced me to this writer.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    The first half of this achieves levitation -- the language and story unite to stream across and down the pages. A great LOL-worthy bit early on and in general a solid read throughout -- swirling anxiety uber alles.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gorkem

    Needless to say, Horacio Castellanos Moya is an amazing writer not only does he know how to exaggerate abnormality, but also he lets the readers to explore politic struggles in El Salvador in a satirical way. His metaphors are deep and dark, but they are always genius. In his last book, " The Dream of My Return", we meet up with Erasmo Aragon who is the protagonist of the book. Erasmo seems to me as if he is a reflection of Salvadorian people subconsciousness. He has a pain in his liver, he has t Needless to say, Horacio Castellanos Moya is an amazing writer not only does he know how to exaggerate abnormality, but also he lets the readers to explore politic struggles in El Salvador in a satirical way. His metaphors are deep and dark, but they are always genius. In his last book, " The Dream of My Return", we meet up with Erasmo Aragon who is the protagonist of the book. Erasmo seems to me as if he is a reflection of Salvadorian people subconsciousness. He has a pain in his liver, he has traumas and he is psychologically obsessed with almost everything ( including in paranoia and being an alcoholic). As a journalist, he comes back to El Salvador from Mexico civil War in order to deal with his pain with named Don Chente who is an acupuncturist and uses alternative medicine and hypnosis. And the story develops incredibly fun and disturbing. Maya makes amazing delusions on Aragon as using hypnosis and materials like acupuncture as metaphors.Comparing to other books, Moya plays with the myth of repression. If you like dark humor and over-exaggeration, I highly recommend it. 10/7

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    An often funny, extremely political little book that thrums with anxiety and vodka tonics, with sexual longing and questions of identity. I quite liked Finch's suggestion in the NYT that this is sort of like a surrealist book where nothing surreal happens; there is as much Murakami here as there is Bolano. There are issues - the treatment of women, some repetition, too little resolution (I understand thematically why that makes sense, but it doesn't necessarily make it the best way to go - but M An often funny, extremely political little book that thrums with anxiety and vodka tonics, with sexual longing and questions of identity. I quite liked Finch's suggestion in the NYT that this is sort of like a surrealist book where nothing surreal happens; there is as much Murakami here as there is Bolano. There are issues - the treatment of women, some repetition, too little resolution (I understand thematically why that makes sense, but it doesn't necessarily make it the best way to go - but Moya's strange, rambling prose will stick with you. The central conceit of a man in exile who starts seeing a mysterious doctor-cum-therapist-cum-hypnotist who unlocks his secrets seems pretty flimsy, but Moya does great things with it, with the strangely metronomic way that the body adjusts to weekly appointments. I do wish I had known more about El Salvador's civil war before reading - a bit of anticipatory Wikipedia might be worthwhile. The translation, incidentally, is fabulous, so good that I wondered a couple of times how she did it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    the fifth castellanos moya book to be translated into english, the dream of my return (el sueño del retorno) finds the salvadoran author mining familiar territory. adept at creating and sustaining a sense of dread and foreboding, castellanos moya's story builds ever more frenetically. while not as arresting as his incomparable senselessness, the dream of my return is, nonetheless, another dark and darkly humorous novel from the long-exiled writer. and it became evident that only the devil hims the fifth castellanos moya book to be translated into english, the dream of my return (el sueño del retorno) finds the salvadoran author mining familiar territory. adept at creating and sustaining a sense of dread and foreboding, castellanos moya's story builds ever more frenetically. while not as arresting as his incomparable senselessness, the dream of my return is, nonetheless, another dark and darkly humorous novel from the long-exiled writer. and it became evident that only the devil himself knows the pathways taken by our self-esteem *translated from the spanish by katherine silver (aira, sada, borges, giralt torrente, bernal, adán, et al.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vegantrav

    There are stream of consciousness novels in the tradition of Joyce and Woolf. Babbling brooks that flow through green meadows, taking strange and uncertain twists and turns over rocks and tree roots while gently lulling readers into serenity and sleepiness. And then there is this novella, The Dream of My Return: a raging river of consciousness, a harum-scarum flood of thoughts and memories and emotion and literary caffeine, David-Foster-Wallace-ian multi-page paragraphs populated with epically lo There are stream of consciousness novels in the tradition of Joyce and Woolf. Babbling brooks that flow through green meadows, taking strange and uncertain twists and turns over rocks and tree roots while gently lulling readers into serenity and sleepiness. And then there is this novella, The Dream of My Return: a raging river of consciousness, a harum-scarum flood of thoughts and memories and emotion and literary caffeine, David-Foster-Wallace-ian multi-page paragraphs populated with epically long, comma-spliced sentences trying to cram in as much meaning and life and energy before the appearance of the mighty dam of a period that tries to contain the waters and bring them to a full stop. Frenetic and funny and exhausting. Witty and informative (with regards to recent El Salvadoran history) and sexy. Sprinting all out from the opening lines to the finish with nary a moment to breathe, The Dream of My Return is a tempest tossed voyage through the mind of a narrator over-analyzing his past and worrying like a paranoiac over his present and future. This may not be among the best of books, but it certainly is entertaining as hell and one-of-a-kind.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Stewart

    Perhaps the most unsettling thing about this very unsettling book is the fact that Moya's protagonist is NOT the same man who flees his homeland fearing for his murder at the hands of the government (or guerillas) in Senselessness (2004), though at first blush (and even beyond), this seems in many ways to be the continuation of that story. But it's not. And it's not even some kind of parallel identity crisis as much as it is a parallel narrative identity: though they are different men, and thoug Perhaps the most unsettling thing about this very unsettling book is the fact that Moya's protagonist is NOT the same man who flees his homeland fearing for his murder at the hands of the government (or guerillas) in Senselessness (2004), though at first blush (and even beyond), this seems in many ways to be the continuation of that story. But it's not. And it's not even some kind of parallel identity crisis as much as it is a parallel narrative identity: though they are different men, and though they are different novels, they complete an arc that depicts an hypnotic, nightmarish commonality of experience for those traumatized by political terror and civil war in Latin America. Those who feel Moya's prose wobbled towards the mundane in Dance With Snakes will be thrilled to pick up those protracted, paranoid sentences that make Senselessness and The Dream of My Return such compelling reads. Kudos, too, belong to Katherine Silver for her excellent translation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    3.5 stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    If you've read a Moya novel before, you know what you're getting into here. This is very similar to Senselessness in many ways. It's not quite as good, but it's still pretty darn good. Bolaño fans will be happy to see the appearance of an infrarealist poet. If you've read a Moya novel before, you know what you're getting into here. This is very similar to Senselessness in many ways. It's not quite as good, but it's still pretty darn good. Bolaño fans will be happy to see the appearance of an infrarealist poet.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arlo

    Although it's an over simplification and with a completely different backdrop. This reminded me of the movie "What about Bob?" 3-4 * Although it's an over simplification and with a completely different backdrop. This reminded me of the movie "What about Bob?" 3-4 *

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mycala

    This was the perfect book to read right after Anna Karenina. In fact, I needed this book after Anna Karenina. I read it all in one sitting, and blew right through it. Not only that, I laughed. A lot. This is surprising, considering a lot of the subject matter is not funny. Our Hero grew up in a violent part of the world where it was a given that if one was going to be politically active there was a very real chance they would wind up dead. Our Hero does not make the best choices. He goes to visi This was the perfect book to read right after Anna Karenina. In fact, I needed this book after Anna Karenina. I read it all in one sitting, and blew right through it. Not only that, I laughed. A lot. This is surprising, considering a lot of the subject matter is not funny. Our Hero grew up in a violent part of the world where it was a given that if one was going to be politically active there was a very real chance they would wind up dead. Our Hero does not make the best choices. He goes to visit a new doctor and begins examining his life, making discoveries about himself as he considers the losses of his relatives. While it is a serious premise in theory, the situations he gets himself into and his neurotic interpretations make it quite hilarious. Possibly more so than usual, because I was still processing Tolstoy's poor Heroine and I needed some levity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janey

    136 pages of a never-ending anxiety attack.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alan Diaz-Romero

    A very strange, hectic read. Moya was great at describing the alcohol-soaked anxiety of the protagonist. Page length sentences that merged digression after manic digression created an unhinged narrative flow that I really enjoyed. I related to that mania and to the tactics the protagonist used to manage it (ie. not great ones). I'm glad the book didn't really take me anywhere. It just shook me around and left me like the protagonist: in a state of agitated anticipation for the future, worried th A very strange, hectic read. Moya was great at describing the alcohol-soaked anxiety of the protagonist. Page length sentences that merged digression after manic digression created an unhinged narrative flow that I really enjoyed. I related to that mania and to the tactics the protagonist used to manage it (ie. not great ones). I'm glad the book didn't really take me anywhere. It just shook me around and left me like the protagonist: in a state of agitated anticipation for the future, worried that self-destruction will always hold it's lead on self-improvement.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Castellanos Moya is currently my favorite author. Built into his style is the anxiety of the exile. It's very dark but also very funny. Not for people who need a more straight forward commercial style as he relies on the run on sentence. I didn't even notice it, though, until someone pointed it out. Also, like many authors from outside the States, his work is more political than some may feel comfortable. Loved this, loved Senselessness. BTW, awesome translation. Castellanos Moya is currently my favorite author. Built into his style is the anxiety of the exile. It's very dark but also very funny. Not for people who need a more straight forward commercial style as he relies on the run on sentence. I didn't even notice it, though, until someone pointed it out. Also, like many authors from outside the States, his work is more political than some may feel comfortable. Loved this, loved Senselessness. BTW, awesome translation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gretta

    He just wants to go back to his home in El Salvador, but his but his failing health and marriage take him down a feverish rambling pathway toward death. I had a hard time focusing while reading this book. The nontraditional narrative structure was interesting, but meant that I did have to re-read often. Short, but not a book for leisurely beach reading. A fascinating look El Salvador’s civil war, it makes me want to learn more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    K's Bognoter

    Velskrevet, ironisk underspillet og alligevel alvorlig roman om eksil-salvadoranske traumer tilsat vodka tonic. Læs anmeldelsen her: http://bognoter.dk/2017/05/18/horacio... Velskrevet, ironisk underspillet og alligevel alvorlig roman om eksil-salvadoranske traumer tilsat vodka tonic. Læs anmeldelsen her: http://bognoter.dk/2017/05/18/horacio...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emerson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Moya has immense flow. Just a single page cover an extreme amount of ground so that one is able to drift through the book seamlessly. Each page glides from one memory, place, and moment to the next, carrying the reader with it. This is a stream of consciousness narrative if I've ever seen one. Moya has immense flow. Just a single page cover an extreme amount of ground so that one is able to drift through the book seamlessly. Each page glides from one memory, place, and moment to the next, carrying the reader with it. This is a stream of consciousness narrative if I've ever seen one.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rafael

    Love the pacing and the meanderings of the narrator, who is obviously driven by the paranoia which comes as a result of his past life. Castellanos Moya does a wonderful job of portraying a very flawed character with a depth that he approaches in a very believable narrative.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I loved Senselessness, but found the unchecked misogyny here hard to take.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    fast-paced, well-written and crazy!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Well written, sensitive handling of civil war , I had a hard time because I really didn't like the narrator. Well written, sensitive handling of civil war , I had a hard time because I really didn't like the narrator.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sam Kepp

    Damn good book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    Several books on my recent reading pile might broadly be categorised as being about 'exiles', and few exiled people have been in a worse position than those who left their homelands to avoid the Central American guerilla wars of the 1980s. This applied especially to combatants, but almost equally at risk were left-wing sympathisers or potential sympathisers, especially of course journalists or writers who might give true accounts of the attrocities being perpetrated by US-supported authoritarian Several books on my recent reading pile might broadly be categorised as being about 'exiles', and few exiled people have been in a worse position than those who left their homelands to avoid the Central American guerilla wars of the 1980s. This applied especially to combatants, but almost equally at risk were left-wing sympathisers or potential sympathisers, especially of course journalists or writers who might give true accounts of the attrocities being perpetrated by US-supported authoritarian governments. If perhaps not quite as productive of exile-related literature as neighbouring Guatemala, El Salvador certainly produced some memorable books relating to its period of revolutionary civil war. The novel "One Day of Life" by Manlio Argueta in 1980, is perhaps the most beautiful as well as the saddest book to emerge from that period, relatively early in the history of the struggles. "The Dream of My Return" is the first book I've read by Moya, and despite frequent references to violence it manages to be quite light-hearted, playing on the apparent feeble-mindedness of its protagonist, as he vacililates between buying and not buying the air ticket that will take him on his 'return' to El Salvador from exile in Mexico. In reality of course his indecision is perfectly understandable, as he has no idea what fate awaits a left-wing writer returning to his homeland, where the civil war, albeit in its terminal stages, is still in progress. There are plenty of precedents for 'disappearances', including those of his own relatives and close friends, recounted as horrific reminders of possible outcomes when (and if) he eventually arrives at Comalapa airport in San Salvador. (The airport had an army base conveniently next to it, and in more peaceful times has been renamed after Óscar Romero, the Salvadorean bishop who was assassinated on 24 March 1980, as he led mass.) Moya's title is itself enigmatic. Is his return a 'dream', or is the story itself a dream about his return? The novel certainly has dream-like qualities. At times it almost reminded me of "The Unconsoled" by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is rather more explicitly dream-like in its improbable switching from one scene to another. But there is at least sufficient ambiguity about Moya's short novel to make the reader wonder if the whole of it represents a dream. If this is not the case, and he is pursuing the 'dream' of his return in the sense of a goal or desire, then the 'dream' has nightmarish qualities and he frequently scares himself as to where the dream might lead. He's particularly anxious about the flight, reflected in his near inability to buy the ticket, and when he arrives at the airport the scene is a sort of premonition of what might happen when the plane reaches his destination. But the book is not about the actual return, but about the 'dream of my return', a mixture of hope and fear, in which the ordinary, mundane arrival at your home airport is the best thing that can happen, because there could be worse, far worse.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    2.5/5 rating This book follows an unnamed narrator who goes to a doctor for liver pains that he has been having and in effect, has acupuncture and hypnotism performed on him. Through this, his doctor is able to gain insight on the main character's life, as he reveals stories about his childhood (including repressed ones) during his hypnotized state. Throughout the book, the main character slowly remembers and reflects on his past and connects those instances to his own personality now, convinced 2.5/5 rating This book follows an unnamed narrator who goes to a doctor for liver pains that he has been having and in effect, has acupuncture and hypnotism performed on him. Through this, his doctor is able to gain insight on the main character's life, as he reveals stories about his childhood (including repressed ones) during his hypnotized state. Throughout the book, the main character slowly remembers and reflects on his past and connects those instances to his own personality now, convinced that who he is is solely based on his past experiences alone. It is seen that no matter how many times he tries to quit poor habits, such as drinking, he find himself unable to do so. There are many instances where other characters tell him that he is continually running away from his own responsibilities but he generally disregards their opinions. Reading this book felt a bit like having a weird fever dream in which paranoia is a very present element and the main character is unable to find and have control over himself. I wasn't a huge fan of the main character, nor any of the supporting characters, and the intrigue and anticipated resolution that captivated me during the first half of the book petered out and fell flat in the end. I did enjoy the ending but I felt that the middle dragged on a bit relaying things I didn't particularly care about, no matter how important they were to the story. I have mentioned before that I'm not big on war or political stories and this novel does delve into both of those quite as bit as this book discusses conflict and war in El Salvador pertaining to various characters past memories. Despite not particularly enjoying some of the context, I appreciated this book for what it was and the message that while you are psychologically a culmination of your past experiences, your present day life is what you make of it and how you choose to react to the horrors and pleasures that you have previously been exposed to. No matter how fervently you seek the root of your present state to gain a clear understanding of who you are, you will be chasing an ever moving target as humans are constantly changing and growing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    "Acid humor," writes Roberto Bolaño of Castellanos Moya's work, " like a Buster Keaton movie or a time bomb." Nothing short of one of that latin literary titan's own works can succeed in fulfilling the excitement built by such a statement, but The Dream of My Return never feels like a disappointment even when it seems to so explicitly live in that same (non?)fictional Latin America of Bolaño's, a fact it seems to acknowledge directly with a nod to the Infrarealist poetry movement and indirectly "Acid humor," writes Roberto Bolaño of Castellanos Moya's work, " like a Buster Keaton movie or a time bomb." Nothing short of one of that latin literary titan's own works can succeed in fulfilling the excitement built by such a statement, but The Dream of My Return never feels like a disappointment even when it seems to so explicitly live in that same (non?)fictional Latin America of Bolaño's, a fact it seems to acknowledge directly with a nod to the Infrarealist poetry movement and indirectly with its style that mixes silent films' fast paced physical comedy and druggy headspace paranoia. Every chapter is a zig-zag of memories and imperative action that ends with such firecrackers as to make you think it was meant to be published serially, keeping readers hungry for the arrival of next week's chapter. Short and delightful, The Dream of My Return is such a pleasurable discovery for anyone who still feels they are wandering aimlessly in the world Bolaño left behind.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    I love Moya. But, I'll confess, I'm also still chasing that first high with him. I really adored Senselessness, and though this and a couple other of his have been well worth reading, I've never got quite swept away like I did with that one. Of course, it could just be the old "first one's the freshest/best" phenomenon. And I'm definitely still looking quite forward to Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador in July. For doubly obvious reasons. This one's swift and a bit scattershot. It's got s I love Moya. But, I'll confess, I'm also still chasing that first high with him. I really adored Senselessness, and though this and a couple other of his have been well worth reading, I've never got quite swept away like I did with that one. Of course, it could just be the old "first one's the freshest/best" phenomenon. And I'm definitely still looking quite forward to Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador in July. For doubly obvious reasons. This one's swift and a bit scattershot. It's got some great riffs and, as usual, features a nicely messed up and skeevy first-person narrator. The CIA did some bad bad things in Latin America, you know? We should never forget that. But most people won't even admit it in the first place. Read some Moya.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joe Cummings

    Horacio Castellanos Moya's 2013 novela El sueño de mi retorno as translated in 2015 by Karen Silver as The Dream of My Return was a strange read, and it left me with mixed emotions. It's the story of writer living in exile in Mexico who is preparing to return to homeland after a long absence. Bored with life in exile, he tries to put his life in order as he prepared to leave for a homeland that he really doesn't know well. One of his concerns before leaving is a health problem, and he seeks Horacio Castellanos Moya's 2013 novela El sueño de mi retorno as translated in 2015 by Karen Silver as The Dream of My Return was a strange read, and it left me with mixed emotions. It's the story of writer living in exile in Mexico who is preparing to return to homeland after a long absence. Bored with life in exile, he tries to put his life in order as he prepared to leave for a homeland that he really doesn't know well. One of his concerns before leaving is a health problem, and he seeks out an old friend of his uncle for treatment. This entertaining story reminds me of an episode of Rod Stewart's Twilight Zone. This is a study in self-doubt and paranoia with a quirky end. Much of the narrator's problems are self-generated, but the story is told in an urbane almost light-hearted manner. It's almost as if the narrator is telling a tale to friends after dinner. In the end, it was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading more by Castellanos Moya.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom Breen

    A short, feverish account of a Salvadoran journalist in the days before he plans to return to his native country from Mexico City, this is perhaps a more intimate, "personal" novel than some of Castellanos Moya's other work, although the specter of Central America's civil wars looms over it, as it does in most of his novels. Although hardly surreal, the novel unfolds like one of those dreams where a task has to be completed but is constantly being thwarted, as the protagonist - cowardly, unfaith A short, feverish account of a Salvadoran journalist in the days before he plans to return to his native country from Mexico City, this is perhaps a more intimate, "personal" novel than some of Castellanos Moya's other work, although the specter of Central America's civil wars looms over it, as it does in most of his novels. Although hardly surreal, the novel unfolds like one of those dreams where a task has to be completed but is constantly being thwarted, as the protagonist - cowardly, unfaithful, selfish - stumbles through encounters with people from the Salvadoran diaspora in Mexico City, ranging from guerrillas to aging establishment fixtures to the mysterious doctor who he believes holds the cure to his nagging illness. A worthwhile novel from one of Latin America's finest writers.

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