by Agustin Gomez-Arcos
this bizarre novel is for advanced readers only. apparently The Carnivorous Lamb is an extended metaphor for life in Spain under Franco as well as a scathing indictment of both fascism and catholicism. makes sense. but the critiques and political commentary didn't seem metaphorical or ambiguous to me - the various analyses of religion and government are right there on every page. they are interwoven with all of the romantic, overheated, pervy details of an incestuous brotherly relationship unfolding over time. it's almost like Fassbinder in his Querelle phase (or maybe earlier - his Lola phase?) decided to sit down and write a novel. it is sickening and fascinating and really smart, all at once. the often langorous, decadent perspective of the narrator only helps to make the journey all the more disturbing. Story of the Queer Eye! indeed.
the characterizations are severely limited by the metaphor; the narrative is rambling; the politics are less-than-subtle; the relentlessly pithy commentary is at times unbearable; there is often a kind of staginess to the dialogue (perhaps due to the translation). but those weaknesses seem so thin when looking at the beauty of much of the language, the deadpan irony of the observations, the sheer aggressiveness of the various political points being made... and just the uniqueness of the entire effort overall. it is a pointed, aggravatingly stylized, swooningly pornographic, highly intelligent, vindictive little literary conceit.
i suppose this novel is, inevitably, considered to be a member of the genre Queer Fiction; it has as much in common with the many often lightweight examples of that genre as the works of Burroughs.