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Review--The Empanada Brotherhood, John Nichols


The Empanada Brotherhood revolves around the story of a collection of Hispanic men, along with their gringo hanger-on (who also happens to be the narrator), living in the Village in the 1960s. The unnamed narrator, called "blondie" by his friends," is a struggling author who does menial jobs to pay the rent. I was extremely excited to read this novel because I'd read and loved The Milagro Beanfield War, also by John Nichols.

What I liked about this novel was character and place development. John Nichols knew intimately the New York of the 1960s, and place is key in this novel. Specific places and street corners are mentioned over and over again. Each character has his or her own defining characteristics, whether it be a porkpie hat, one hand, a burnt face, or blonde hair. Although a lot of the dialogue is in Spanish, it's that Spanish that gives the book and the characters within that air of authenticity.

Although the book is short at just over 200 pages, it's a dense novel, filled with complicated characters, and I got the feeling that the book's ending never was completely resolved. I also thought that Nichols could have delved deeper into how this collection of men became friends in the first place, and what drove our narrator into their circle. But in all, I thought this was a superb novel from a truly fantastic author.

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