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Hotel Malabar Cover Image

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Goodreads rating: 3.25

Paperback, Published in Mar 1998 by University Of Iowa Press

ISBN10: 087745597X | ISBN13: 9780877455974

Page count: 62

Beginning with a question spoken into a tape recorder by one of the characters from the veranda of the Hotel Malabar, Brendan Galvin leads us into his engaging tour de force, a poem/ mystery novel/spy thriller ranging between Cape Cod and Central America. Hotel Malabar reads as if Brendan Galvin merged the William Faulkner of As I Lay Dying and the Joseph Conrad of The Secret Agent with Elmore Leonard's dialogue and the imagery of Orson Welles' The Third Man. The result is a narrative poem that reads like a popular novel even as it displays the images and rhythms of a master poet. This is the only contemporary book-length narrative poem that draws on detective fiction to tell its story. The setting is a Cape Cod hotel during a mid-1970s summer, and the poem unfolds through the monologues of five distinctive characters: an elderly Yankee banana hand who spent years in Central America as a plantation manager, three federal agents sent to discover his wartime activities there, and an Indian curandero who is the old man's source of medicines. The story -- replete with tales within tales -- draws the reader into its mysteries through the revelations of these five speakers. As it moves relentlessly toward its conclusion, Hotel Malabar asks questions about human motivation, the nature of truth, and the consequences of secrecy and the willing fabrication of illusions, of a life lived in a wilderness of mirrors.

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