‘Paradais’ by Fernanda Melchor – The Story of Polo and Fatboy

 

‘Paradais’ by Fernanda Melchor    (2021) – 112 pages             Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

 

At first, this story of the two teen boys Fatboy and Polo seems quite comical, but it takes a dark, dark turn. Both Fatboy and Polo are sixteen years old.

Polo lives with his mother and his pregnant cousin Zorayda. They don’t have much money, and Polo has dropped out of school, so he has to work as a gardener at a nearby luxury housing development.

Franco, the Fatboy, is one of the spoiled boys whose family lives in the luxury housing development. Fatboy is sexually obsessed with one of the neighboring well-to-do ladies, Senora Marian Marono. When Fatboy finds out that the Marono family leaves one house door unlocked all the time, he sneaks in there while they are gone to sniff her underwear.

Polo has total disdain for Fatboy and his fantasies, but since Fatboy has the money to buy alcohol Polo puts up with him. Polo hates his boss Urquiza who makes Polo work late performing useless tasks. Polo flunked out of school, and his mother made him get this job. Polo is disgusted with his situation.

Polo’s cousin Zorayda has moved in with Polo and his mother, and Polo has lost his room and his bed to her, and he sleeps on the floor in the living room.

Now Zorayda is pregnant, and the word is that she sleeps with every man in town.

The entire story of ‘Paradais’ is told from Polo’s point of view. We see the entire world through this young guy’s eyes. The writing could be described as stream of consciousness with long sentences and pages-long paragraphs. However these long sentences and paragraphs do not detract at all from the sharpness and vividness of the prose. Author Fernanda Melchor has captured the thought stream of this sixteen year old boy perfectly. Sometimes it is a laugh riot; sometimes its a nightmare.

‘Paradais’ is a strong follow-up to Fernanda Melchor’s previous novel ‘Hurricane Season’. Like in the earlier novel, Melchor tells the truth about some very rough things. Fernanda Melchor is now on my short list of must-read novelists.

Having been a young guy myself at one time, I know that the author has nailed it, how a young guy’s mind works or doesn’t work. The two misfit teenagers Polo and Fatboy are as memorable a team as George and Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’.

 

Grade:     A

 

 

7 responses to this post.

  1. “Sometimes it is a laugh riot; sometimes it’s a nightmare.”
    Not to mention a miracle. Remembering those incommunicado years of The Offspring’s adolescence, when all I could do was try to guess what he was thinking, I think any insight into the mind of the adolescent is a kind of miracle.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. I’m literally thirty pages into this so I skimmed your review a little (although pleased to see it got an A!) but I’m enjoying it so far. If enjoying is the right word!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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