The Night Buffalo by Guillermo Arriaga

May 5, 2006
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The Night Buffalo
Guillermo Arriaga: Translated Alan Page

Atria Books
5/5/2006
Hardcover/228 pages
ISBN: 0-7432-8185-3
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". . . a stark and engaging tale of madness."

"Arriaga is primarily a film maker and his ventures into fiction showcase his cinematic sensibilities."

When the earwigs swim through your blood, the night buffalo isn’t far behind.

Gregorio is just released from the hospital again. Manuel goes to see him, unsure whether or not their friendship remained, but he returns home certain he has been forgiven. That night Gregorio’s sister, Margarita, calls Manuel. Gregorio is dead—suicide—and Tania has disappeared.

Throughout their school years, Gregorio, Tania and Manuel are close. They are more than friends. Tania is the glue that kept them together and the chisel and hammer that tears them apart. Tania is Gregorio’s girlfriend yet she is also Manuel’s lover. Gregorio is unable to perform sexually with her, afraid to infect her with his madness, with his disease.

Manuel needs to find understanding. He needs to find comfort. He needs to find the sense of Gregorio’s senseless suicide and make sense of Gregorio’s message from beyond the grave. He needs to find Tania.

Guillermo Arriaga is primarily a filmmaker and his ventures into fiction showcase his cinematic sensibilities. In The Night Buffalo he uses language in visual long shots and close-ups that define and refine the idea and the definition of madness in relationships.

In each scene Arriaga both informs and confuses the reader about the tangled relationships of the central characters. He offers conclusions that never quite bridge the gap between sanity and insanity, imparting a sense of surreal hyper-reality. The characters seem at first glance ordinary and nothing special, their stories and relationships like common clay. But throughout the narrative there runs a subtext that dances the razor’s edge of insanity until the fine line between reality and fantasy becomes so blurred as to be unrecognizable. In between is a no man’s land that reaches out and pulls the reader in. The Night Buffalo is a stark and engaging tale of madness that leaves the reader wondering about the true nature of sanity, love and the nature of existence.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell

 

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