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Down the Rabbit Hole by [Villalobos, Juan Pablo]
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Down the Rabbit Hole Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 97 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'A pint-size novel about innocence, beastliness and a child learning the lingo in a drug wonderland. Funny, convincing, appalling, it's a punch-packer for one so small.' Ali Smith, Book of the Year in the Daily Telegraph ------ 'Down the Rabbit Hole is a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective - a deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature.' Adam Thirlwell ------ 'That rarest of animals, a book that is, to all intents and purposes, perfect.' Sarah Churchwell, Book of the Year in the New Statesman ------ 'Juan Pablo Villalobos, channeled Mexico's drug wars via the voice of a narco-baron's son in his touching and invigorating Down the Rabbit Hole.' Boyd Tonkin, in his round-up of the year's best fiction, The Independent ------ 'If you're going to have an imprisoned child narrate a novel, then not so much as a word should be out of place. There are no such slips in Juan Pablo Villalobos's debut novella. We have here a control over the material which is so tight it is almost claustrophobic. [...] This is a novel about failing to understand the bigger picture, and in its absence we can see it more clearly.' Nicholas Lezard, Choice of the Week, The Guardian------ 'In Villalobos's small but perfectly formed 2011 debut novel, reality and surreality overlap in a darkly comic tale that offers a fresh take on Mexico's nasty narco-wars.' Laura Diaz, The Best Books on Mexico, The Guardian ------ 'The cumulative parodic effect is chillingly powerful.' Edward King, Sunday Times ------ 'Juan Pablo Villalobos brilliantly encapsulates the chaos of a lawless existence in which, under the sway of drug lords, anything might happen and everything goes. [...] Down the Rabbit Hole is an astonishing debut from Villalobos' Lucy Popescu, The Independent ------ 'Villalobos creates Tochtli's half-corrupt, half-innocent world [...] with a brilliant, tragi-comic light touch.' Jane Shilling, Daily Mail 'Refreshingly original' Angel Gurria-Quintana, FT ------ 'For anyone interested in point of view in creative writing 'Down the Rabbit Hole' is a masterclass.' Kate Pullinger ------ 'Mexican author Villalobo's first novel offers an original and darkly comic portrayal of Mexico's drugs scene. Translator Rosalind Harvey seamlessly recreates Tochtli's distinctive voice - with his flights of fancy and half-understood truths, this is clearly the voice of a child, but one who is losing his innocence ahead of his time.' Book Trust ------ 'A beautifully realised short novel that narrates the daily life of a powerful drug lord ensconced in his palatial hideaway, seen through the clear eyes of his young son ... A brief and majestic debut that converts the 'drug novel' into a fascinating narrative.' Matias Nespolo, El Mundo ------ 'Despite the - apparent - naivety with which the story is told, despite the fact that the child speaks as if he were a child telling a story (and herein lies the irony and acid humour of Villalobos) this child is in actual fact the son of an extremely powerful drugs lord and we quickly recognise the nature of his environment - This is the precise point of view with which Villalobos has chosen to view this narco-reality within a Mexican context.' Javier Goni, El Pais ------ 'Don't miss this refreshing little novel, even if it is only to enjoy the delicious literary comfort that allows us to endure the sordid, cruel reality of the world it describes.' Enrique Garcia Fuentes, Hoy de Extremadura ------ 'With this book we have discovered Juan Pablo Villalobos, a linguistic virtuoso able to penetrate the elusive world of literature, shedding light on many of its mysteries.' Jose Antonio Aguado, Diari de Terrassa ------ 'Down the Rabbit Hole is an dazzling and unsettling literary exercise - Villalobos plays with a double-edged sword: the horror of our reactions as readers is contrasted with the almost trivial way the narrator describes his daily existence - Down the Rabbit Hole could well become a classic of the genre. A novel that breaks our hearts (which we knew were already broken, but which still hurt) and invites us both to laugh and inevitably to reflect on the political subtext, highly relevant in a contemporary context.' Ricardo Garcia Mainou, El Economista ------ 'With Down the Rabbit Hole, Juan Pablo Villalobos has made a dramatic entrance into the literary world. It is a book that must be read for its great aesthetic value and darkly humorous tone. A book that throws a clear light on a dark subject.' Teresa Garcia Diaz, Amerika ------ 'Amidst this boom of so-called "narco-literature", Villalobos has managed to avoid lapsing into moralism through the voice of his child narrator, which is strange and cruel in its innocence' Gabriela Wiener, El Pais

Review

'A pint-size novel about innocence, beastliness and a child learning the lingo in a drug wonderland. Funny, convincing, appalling, it's a punch-packer for one so small.' Ali Smith, Book of the Year, Daily Telegraph. 'Down the Rabbit Hole is a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective - a deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature.' Adam Thirlwell. 'That rarest of animals, a book that is, to all intents and purposes, perfect.' Sarah Churchwell, Book of the Year, New Statesman. 'Juan Pablo Villalobos, channeled Mexico's drug wars via the voice of a narco-baron's son in his touching and invigorating Down the Rabbit Hole.' Boyd Tonkin, in his round-up of the year's best fiction, The Independent. 'If you're going to have an imprisoned child narrate a novel, then not so much as a word should be out of place. There are no such slips in Juan Pablo Villalobos's debut novella. We have here a control over the material which is so tight it is almost claustrophobic. [...] This is a novel about failing to understand the bigger picture, and in its absence we can see it more clearly.' Nicholas Lezard, Choice of the Week, The Guardian. 'The cumulative parodic effect is chillingly powerful.' Edward King, Sunday Times. 'Juan Pablo Villalobos brilliantly encapsulates the chaos of a lawless existence in which, under the sway of drug lords, anything might happen and everything goes. [...] Down the Rabbit Hole is an astonishing debut from Villalobos' Lucy Popescu, The Independent. Villalobos creates Tochtli's half-corrupt, half-innocent world [...] with a brilliant, tragi-comic light touch.' Jane Shilling, Daily Mail. 'Refreshingly original' Angel Gurria-Quintana, FT. 'A beautifully realised short novel that narrates the daily life of a powerful drug lord ensconced in his palatial hideaway, seen through the clear eyes of his young son ... A brief and majestic debut that converts the 'drug novel' into a fascinating narrative.' Matias Nespolo, El Mundo.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 209 KB
  • Print Length: 97 pages
  • Publisher: And Other Stories (20 Dec. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0077FAVFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,903 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
superb little book
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Narrated from the perspective of a child, this short story reads as a frantic diary excerpt.

It documents the sad and brutal, yet unknowing loss of childhood. This lack of awareness from the child's perspective lends frequent humour to the choice of language, its context and how events are interpreted.

Innocence affords the reader regular opportunity to identify with the child's misplaced view of the world, but ultimately a sense of hopelessness pervades his life.

There are other conventional themes that go with the territory of a narco-novel: mindless violence, the drug lord father’s inability to engage with his son emotionally and to compensate with absurd gifts, the subsequent and elaborate psychological destruction of his child, misogyny, conflict between the political state and drug cartel and betrayal.

Convincingly and experimentally written, I would recommend this read for a fleeting literary high.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The narrator of this novella is the child of a Mexican drug lord living in lonely luxury in a heavily guarded palace. Tochtli is both childishly innocent and also horribly knowledgeable about things like bullets, corpses, and their disposal.

Juan Pablo Villalobos (and Rosalind Harvey the translator) have got Tochtli's voice spot on. This child's obsessions (hats and Liberian pygmy hippopotamuses among other things), petulant scorn, and relish in words like 'sordid', 'immaculate', and 'enigmatic', are amusing and charming. The reader, however, is also aware of the loneliness of Tochtli's life and the dangerous undercurrents of his father's business. A sense of unease, which sometimes turns into outright horror, is present throughout.

I very much enjoyed this novella (ideally read in one sitting) and I felt immersed in its world, admiring what Villalobos reveals through the voice of his naive narrator. "Down the Rabbit Hole" which is the first publication of the small press And Other Stories is nicely presented and comes with both a glossary explaining some of the Mexican references and an introduction by Adam Thirlwell.
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By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a good translation from the original Spanish of a well-written novella from the viewpoint of a young Mexican boy. Tochtli, whose father is a drug baron. For obvious reasons, Tochtli lives in a bizarre heavily-guarded world of obscene luxury, and brutal amorality, where his father allows him to see men being tortured, as part of ensuring he grows up to be suitably macho, and Tochtli casually announces that the corpses of those who have fallen foul of his father end up being fed to the lions and tiger kept in cages in the garden. The boy is obsessed with death, body parts and the number of bullets needed to kill people, according to the organ damaged. His corrupted child's perception of the world is darkly tragicomical, his misreading of situations, such as the visits of a prostitute for his father, sometimes amusing, his casual acceptance of violence and lack of "normal" feeling are often shocking although understandable.

This is an imaginative but bleak parody of the predicament of a child, subject to a distorted socialisation, deprived of the company of other children so unable to relate to them, indulged by having his every material whim satisfied, even to the extent of being taken to Liberia to capture a pair of the pygmy hippopotami with which he has become obsessed, bored by the narrow repetition of his daily life. His only real moment of closeness with his father is when the latter says that one day Tochtli will have to kill him to save his honour i.e from gaol, like a samurai in one of the violent films they love to watch.

Something of a "one trick pony" in the essential point made, the book can be read too quickly for you to worry that you may have wasted your time.
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Format: Paperback
'Down the Rabbit Hole' is a slight novel about life inside the bizarre world of a Mexican drug baron as seen through the eyes of Tochtli, a nine-year old boy. Except of course that the title 'Down the Rabbit Hole' has echoes of Alice in Wonderland, that strange distorted fantasy world as seen through the eyes of child experiencing something unusual and that link, that other-worldliness is very evident within this book.

Tochtli isn't your average nine year-old, he's lived in isolation from the rest of the world, apparently all his life, he lives in the middle of an emotionless world, where he can count the number of live people he knows and he's well aware that people turn into corpses for reasons he cannot understand. His is a selfish, self-centred existence, that of a little prince, whose life is devoid of any notion of love, but full of possessions, demands and whims.

So the novel is original and different, and Tochtli is weirdly diverting company, but that's all. This is a novel set in a Mexican drug cartel that says nothing about drugs, corruption or violence, except to portray the latter, off scene, as a normal part of life. This is a novel about a child, that says nothing about childhood and a novel about selfishness that refuses to do anything other than highlight it. For me 'Down the Rabbit Hole' needed to go somewhere morally, to make some kind of judgement about its weirdness, rather than be content to be modern day Alice in Wonderland, just looking wide-eyed, like a child at this strange world someone else calls normal.
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