Books: Opera for a Penny Whistle

THE FUTILE LIFE OF PITO PEREZ by José Rubén Romero, translated by William O. Cord. 151 pages. Prentice-Hall. $4.95.

On the eve of World War II, a scandalous, enigmatic fictional scamp named Pito Perez suddenly loomed on the Mexican literary landscape. He was modeled after a real-life picaresque oddball named Jesús Pérez Gaona, and was immediately hailed as a personification of the national character. Bloody, absurd, splendid, his story seemed to mirror Mexico. The Futile Life of Pito Perez —his equivalent U.S. name would be something like Penny Whistle Jones—was not so much an instant bestseller as an immediate national classic. Its...

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