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Warren Eyster: The Goblins of Eros

Eyster is not a great writer but the three books he wrote are all interesting. Far from the Customary Skies is an excellent book about the Navy. I haven’t read No Country for Old Men but it is apparently about land, wealth, religion, steel, love and politics, which covers most things and was, of course, made into a famous film . This book is about five of those six (no steel unless you count the metal of the guns). It is set in a poor part of Mexico, subject to random ruthless revolution, drought, control by the local landowners and desperation for the poor people who live there. Eduardo’s parents and grandmother had got out and moved to Guadalajara but now his grandmother has died. While waiting for the estate to be settled, Eduardo decides to go back to Nayarit, where he was born.

He has difficulty getting there – the bus has long since stopped running there. He finds his uncle Miguel, a man immured in poverty with neither the will nor the ability to get out of it. He finds Romero the local landowner, whose two daughters (one now dead) seem to be mixed up in something. He finds the doctor, Argello, a man who is far more intelligent than some of his patients and who lets himself be cheated but who has grown cynical particularly, as we discover, after the death of the older Romero with whom he was in love. Finally, there is Juan Viste, the revolutionary who is at least part Indian, a former hired hand of Romero and now living with and fighting with the Huitchole Indians.

The novel has three story lines. Firstly, there is the history of the area – how the stories of Argello, Juan Viste, Eduardo and his family and the Romeros are all intertwined and it is quite complicated but well told. Secondly, there is the present – the grinding poverty, which seems to be getting worse but which is accepted by most of the locals. Finally, there is the revolution. Juan Viste’s motives are essentially pure but those of others are not. We follow not only Juan Viste and his allies but also the opposition Governor and General who are virtually pastiche stereotypes of a Mexican general and governor but, nevertheless, interesting.

The revolution is doomed to failure as are the lives of rich and poor and their sad relationships. Eduardo comes out alive and with a wife but most of the other main characters die. But this is Mexico. That is life. It happens.

Publishing history

First published 1957 by Random House