Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: The Night Buffalo by Guillermo Arriaga

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

 Gregorio was just released from the hospital again. Manuel went to see him, unsure whether or not their friendship remained, and went home again certain he had been forgiven. That night Gregorio’s sister, Margarita, called Manuel. Gregorio was dead. Suicide. And Tania had disappeared.

Throughout their school years, Gregorio, Tania and Manuel were close. They were friends and more than friends. Tania was the glue that kept them together and the chisel and hammer that tore them apart. Tania was Gregorio’s girlfriend. Tania was also Manuel’s lover, although she could not be Gregorio’s lover. Gregorio was unable to perform 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 film maker 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 tangled relationships of the central characters, offering conclusions that never quite bridge the gap between sanity and insanity, imparting a sense of surreal hyper reality. Although the characters seem at first glance ordinary and nothing special, their stories and relationships common clay, throughout the narrative there runs a subtext that dances the razor’s edge of insanity until the fine line between reality and fantasy is so blurred as to be unrecognizable. In between is a no man’s land that reaches out and pulls the reader closer. The Night Buffalo is a stark and engaging tale of madness that leaves the reader wondering about the true nature of sanity and love and the nature of existence. 

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