Critically acclaimed throughout Spain, and now available for the first time in English, this tender, satirical novel vividly captures the intrinsic absurdity of war—and the joys of true friendship in a place where it is difficult to distinguish man from beast.
Juan Castro Pérez is a simple muleteer caught in the brutal Spanish Civil War. Never far from his closest companion—a stray mule named Valentina whom he is determined to keep for himself after the war—Juan engages in the low-brow drinking escapades, long shots at love, and an otherwise droning existence shared by his compatriots.
As he lies, cheats, and steals to protect Valentina during his improbable odyssey home, Juan unwittingly “fights” for both sides—and becomes a reluctant and unlikely hero of the people, exploited by opportunistic journalists desperately trying to convince the Spanish public that the war is under control, when it is anything but….
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Mule|
|Release Date: 02-26-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||The Mule|
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Juan Castro Perez, corporal muleteer of the Third Battalion of the Canaries Falange, third company, is hunting for wild asparagus in the brush. Day has been attempting to break for some time now, but a dense, damp fog coils around the tops of the dwarf oaks and cork oaks, holding it at bay.
Dewdrops trickle off the branches, burrowing tiny funnels into the sandy ground and rolling down the soldier’s forage cap. Castro climbs a stony hill dotted with oaks and low scrub. A few granite crags jut out, halfway up. He’s heading toward them when suddenly he stops and crouches, one knee to the ground, holding his breath, his heart pounding. Something moved in the fog, a gray shadow behind a patch of bramble. Through his sidepack, Castro fingers the handle of the pistol Sergeant Otero lends him when he goes asparagus hunting. Getting caught by the reds is the last thing he needs. It’s been a year since Castro switched sides, and if a turncoat falls prisoner, not even Jesus Christ Himself can save him from the firing squad. Deserter and traitor. It would mean court-martial, death sentence, ten shots, and into the ditch within a heartbeat.
Castro narrows his eyes and breathes deeply. He feels tiny droplets of icy water in his lungs. For a few interminable minutes, he awaits the enemy’s next move. “Why send me out to hunt asparagus, when it’s so nice playing cards back in the hut?”
The fog lifts a little. Shapes and colors slowly become distinguishable in the undergrowth. Castro makes out the familiar silhouette of a mule. Alone, or not? He glances around cautiously and cocks his ear, listening: just the unremar