Title: Quiet Creature on the Corner
Author: Joao Gilberto Noll
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 120
If this book wasn’t really, really short I never would have finished it.
The Goodreads blurb compares Quiet Creature on the Corner to the films of David Lynch, which makes it sounds way more interesting than it actually is (I’m not the biggest David Lynch fan, but he has one hell of an imagination.) I kept wondering some actual knowledge of Cuban society and politics might have helped me ‘understand’ this book more, but I seriously doubt I would have liked it either way.
The unnamed protagonist is disgusting degenerate who rapes a teenage girl and lands in jail. He ends up being freed shortly afterward and going to live with a rich couple who exercise a weird kind of control over him. He has no idea why he’s there and is seduced by the comfort of living in luxury, even though the ambiguity of the situation is disturbing.
Sounds interesting, right? Well, that’s what I thought, but I was subject to a confusing and boring ramble with unnecessarily graphic sex scenes as the main character screws almost every woman in the book. The explicit nature of his encounters seems especially inappropriate since he is established early on as a sexual predator.
Look, I hate the term ‘male gaze.’ I find it overused and obnoxious, but I could practically picture the author typing with one hand and pleasuring himself with the other as almost every single female character throws herself at the main character. The women in the book aren’t characters, they’re props.
The transitions between the scenes were abrupt and threw the character from one setting into another. I guess it’s supposed to add to the ‘surrealism,’ but it further distanced me from the material. It was hard to follow what was going on and after a while I honestly didn’t care. I powered my way through the book hoping it would end soon. I sometimes really like books with totally unsympathetic main characters.
For instance, I really liked Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates, The Dinner by Herman Koch, and Out Backward by Ross Raisin. But this book just has no substance and it’s a drag to get through. The main character is a despicable piece of shit and that might work if he was well-written, but I didn’t feel like I really got to know him or understood his motivations. The ending only would have had any impact if you were invested in all in the protagonist, which I obviously wasn’t. Overall, not nearly as interesting or surreal as I was hoping, and pretty distasteful.