On the tenth anniversary of the return of their battalion from Mozambique, four ex-soldiers attempt to rekindle the bond that helped them survive the colonial war that was Portugal's Vietnam. In turn, they tell the stories of their lives before, during, and after the revolution that overthrew the Salazar dictatorship.
Lobo Antunes is the psychiatrist that he is -- in stream-of-consciousness writing, he brings us inside the characters' minds, even into places we don't want to go into. He is unrelenting that way, intending i think to shock our senses, he guides us to the dark labyrinthian back streets of Lisbon where transvestites and seedy characters abound, provoking us to taste and smell the city in the dark before dawn. It's a claustrophobic novel, but here one can see his genius. He writes with such vivid imagery in a way that weakens the knees. He writes on many levels, and one interpretation is that the dissolution of the selves is comparable to the corruption and the decay of Lisbon in this period.
A dazzling psychological novel as well as a chronology of events in Lisbon society during and after the 1975 revolution.
Lobo Antune is big in Portugal in a different way that Saramago is. The latter is like a wise old storyteller, whose parables take us to worlds we haven't imagined before. Lobo Antunes is the opposite, he takes us deep into the dark worlds inside ourselves we never dared explore before.
This book is not for everybody, it is dark, it is shocking at times in it's imagery and it's very long. And if one thinks Saramago is complicated to read with his one-page sentences and omission of punctuation marks, I have to warn that Lobo Antunes employs these techniques even more liberally.
This is my first Lobo Antunes, and it has immediately put him in my short list of best authors, and this book, one of the best i've ever read. Five stars. Need I say more?