Roberto Arlt, celebrated in Argentina for his tragicomic, punch-in-the-jaw writing during the 1920s and 1930s, was a forerunner of Latin American "boom" and "postboom" novelists such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. Mad Toy, acclaimed by many as Arlt's best novel, is set against the chaotic background of Buenos Aires in the early twentieth century. Set in the badlands of adolescence, where acts of theft and betrayal become metaphors for creativity, Mad Toy is equal parts pulp fiction, realism, detective story, expressionist drama, and creative memoir. An immigrant son of a German father and an Italian mother, Arlt as a youth was a school dropout, poor and often hungry. In Mad Toy, he incorporates his personal experience into the lives of his characters. Published in 1926 as El juguete rabioso, the novel follows the adventures of Silvio Astier, a poverty-stricken and frustrated youth who is drawn to gangs and a life of petty crime. As Silvio struggles to bridge the gap between exuberant imagination and the sordid reality around him, he becomes fascinated with weapons, explosives, vandalism, and thievery, despite a desperate desire to rise above his origins.
Flavored with a dash of romance, a hint of allegory, and a healthy dose of irony, the novel's language varies from the cultured idiom of the narrator to the dialects and street slang of the novel's many colorful characters. Mad Toy has appeared in numerous Spanish editions and has been adapted for the stage and for film. It is the second of Arlt's novels to be translated into English.
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(5817mm x 3556mm x 12mm)
Duke University Press
Publisher: Duke University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
This is the first (1926) novel published by the neglected Argentinian postmodernist writer (1900-42) whose phantasmagoric The Seven Madmen (English translation, 1999) rivals the masterpieces of Cortazar, Garcia Marquez, and Onetti. It's the story of Silvio Astier (told by himself in old age), a street thug inspired by "the thrilling literature of outlaws and bandits," and educated in crime by his Fagin-like mentor Rengo (a charmer of a villain if there ever was one). Mad Toy bears interesting resemblances as well to both Don Quixote and Luis Bunuel's classic naturalist film Los Olvidados. In addition to the novel's own considerable interest, Aynesworth's illuminating remarks about Arlt's vigorous "polyglot style" shed further light on a richly entertaining and unquestionably important work. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Roberto Arlt
Roberto Arlt (1900-42) was an Argentine writer who published numerous plays and novels during his lifetime.