Books: Notable

THE OBSCENE BIRD OF NIGHT by JOSÉ DONOSO 438 pages. Knopf. $7.95.

This is the latest in an apparently unending procession of long, richly imagined novels from South America.

Like García Marquez's bestselling One Hundred Years of Solitude, it is a densely populated, myth-ridden antiepic.

Like the elegant entertainments of Jorge Amado, it is filled with local allusions, jokes and satires—in this case Chilean—that few Yankee readers will know or even be aware of.

The central figure of the book, its fantasy-struck narrator, is a failed, elderly intellectual named Humberto. He is the caretaker of a...

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