Book Review: The Dream of Heroes by Adolfo Bioy Casares

Even though The Dream of Heroes is far from the quality of The Invention of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares’ best work, it has a certain allure, based both on the style and on the plot itself, that qualifies this novel as one of the finest works of art.

The story itself is quite simple. At a carnival in 1927, Emilio Gauna gets drunk with some of his friends. At which point there’s a sequence of hazy events that he almost forgets entirely, except for a masked woman. This strange apparition makes Gauna want to try to see her again. So three years later, he’s recreating the events of that night, in an attempt to meet with the strange woman again.

The story unfolds at such a nice pace, adding more and more, and at the same time, the reader gets absorbed into this lavish and eccentric Buenos Aires. And then there’s the ending. Let me try some analogy. It’s like watching a bomb, and when the clock on the bomb reaches 0, that’s when you obviously expect it to explode. Well, something like that. Of course, there’s a catch, but at the same time the ending is subtle enough, and it’s one of the most brilliantly executed endings I have ever read.

There’s a sense of determinism added to all this, a prophetic undertone, and if you’re interested in tales that revolve around fate as a major factor in human life, then The Dream of Heroes is the right book for you.

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