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The Carnivorous Lamb

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  322 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The latest in the Little Sister's Classics series resurrecting gay and lesbian literary gems: a viciously funny, shocking yet ultimately moving 1975 novel, an allegory of Franco's Spain, about a young gay man (the self-described "carnivorous lamb") coming of age with a mother who despises him, a father who ignores him, and a brother who loves him.

Author Agustin Gomez-Arcos
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Paperback, 269 pages
Published 1986 by GMP (first published 1975)
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(showing 1-30 of 844)
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mark monday
this bizarre novel is for advanced readers only. apparently The Carnivorous Lamb is an extended metaphor for life in Spain under Franco as well as a scathing indictment of both fascism and catholicism. makes sense. but the critiques and political commentary didn't actually seem metaphorical or ambiguous to me - the various analyses of religion and government are right there on every page. they are interwoven with all of the romantic, overheated, pervy details of a incestuous brotherly relationsh ...more
Mike Puma
Actually, 4.5 stars, but why quibble?

It’s taken as long to write a review for this book as it did to read it—I keep starting and stopping, starting and stopping; in the same way I kept picking it up and setting it down, I start writing and stopping over and over. Anyway, …

Fascism. What is it about fascism that has captured the attention of some of my GR buddies? They’re reading books on the subject; LIKEing each other’s reviews; queerying each other about the subject and other books. I can’t get

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Sketchbook
Comedy shatters tyrannical authority. In this remarkable
novel the self-exiled Spanish author, then living in France, uses
dark humor to indict the tyranny of Franco, the Catholic Church
and the valueless conformity of Moralists. Life carries despair
and isolation, allows the writer, but always pursue freedom. He
gooses its importance with a sexual metaphor: two brothers defy the social contract by having an erotic relationship. Their parents, marginalized by the Civil War, look away. "You've built u
...more
Damon Suede
A very strange, hypnotic, "literary" novel disguised as something pulpier. Agustín Gómez Arcos is more concerned with the seduction and destruction of Spain than his characters, but somehow the florid, erotic prose sucks you in and you being to care deeply about Franco's devastation of Spain even if you've never given the subject a moment of thought. The gothic family at the novel's core is beautiful, vile, and fascinating.

To call this book sexy is misleading, but honorably so; it IS sexy and i
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Bokeshi
When I stumbled upon this unknown literary gem, with its dreamy cover and intriguing premise, little did I know that I'm about to read one of the best books in my entire life.

The Carnivorous Lamb unfolds like a particularly lovely, intricate, and satisfying dream. Things that at first appear to be matter-of-fact reveal themselves to be larger metaphors for politics, religion, and social issues, in prose both decadent and surreal. The writing is phenomenal; the language so painfully beautiful tha
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Charly
The best book I’ve read in months

Rating: 10/10

PROS:
- Phenomenal writing. I read this simultaneously in English and French (my French is functional, at best), but I can’t comment, as other reviewers have done, on the accuracy of the vocabulary used in the English version. However, the descriptions, the metaphors, the characterizations, and the pithy/witty/caustic observations certainly survived the translation. Even in the English version, which I understand is a bit crude compared to its origina
...more
Johnathan
Mar 03, 2007 Johnathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the gays
This book is hot! It's about two brothers in love, and not in a brotherly way, but rather in a raunchy, sweaty way that puts even Brokeback Mountain to shame. Prepare for a 250-page literary hardon.
Karmen
At first glance I thought it would be dull - it was that only for the first few pages. Soon I was caught up in Ignacio's story. Of his love for his brother, Antonio - who is later his lover (starting when he is 12, after taking his first communion & confirmation). It's about the hate between Ignacio and his mother. She had hoped to be free to travel on a pilgrimage when initially after birth, Ignacio would not open his eyes. When on the 16th day he did, his mother began to hate him - for he ...more
Zev Valera
I cannot believe that somehow this book circled beyond the scope of my radar for so many years. Had it not been for the recommendation of my dear friend and fellow writer Vastine Bondurant, with whom I share reads, it would never have fallen into my hands. I am so grateful that it did. Much has been written about what is called 'magical realism' - the masters of which Garcia Marquez and Allende are counted among. It is a tough genre in which to write. So many have tried and failed to get it righ ...more
Joseph Longo
Bleak but involving. Beautifully and poetically written at times. Great insight into Franco's Spain, the Catholic Church, and how they worked together and the horrors they both caused. The incestuous relationship between the two bothers - and their relationships with their mother and father - was an interesting metaphor of what was happening in the country after the Spanish Civil War. This book conveys what it was like living under Franco repressive, dictatorial regime.
Denis
I found this book by chance and read it in its English translation. An incredibly daring novel of forbidden gay love set under Franco's dictature that is also a powerful story about family, politics and society. An unknown (or forgotten?) masterpiece.
Tex Reader
3 of 5 stars
This is an interesting, well-written story of the young gay narrator’s growing up in a dysfunctional family and his incestuous relationship with his older brother, written as a metaphor rebelling against Franco’s Spain.

It is beautifully written and wonderfully translated, but sadly, it was hard for me to get past the incest between the two brothers. I get that the title is a metaphor for defying the taboo of incest, which in turn is a metaphor for defying the censorship (including t
...more
Jeremy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan
A farce set in Franco's Spain, The Carnivorous Lamb chronicles two decades in a ruined republican family and is organized around the love affair between Ignacio, the narrator, and Antonio, his brother. There's a fair amount of the religious ecstasy and the social absurdity that is often characteristic of Spanish literature, and, of course, there's the taboo eroticism of incest. This is a transgressive book for sure, but not for the obvious reasons. It's a fiery indictment of Franco and post-civi ...more
Pedro Menchén
Una buena historia, aunque a veces poco convincente. Por ejemplo: es difícil de creer que un niño no saliera de su casa hasta los 13 años sin estar siquiera enfermo. También es difícil de creer que su propio hermano le besara en la boca delante de todo el mundo, nada más tomar la primera comunión, sin que eso provocara la menor sorpresa en los presentes. Por otro lado, el personaje no para de decir que odia a su madre, aunque el lector ignora los motivos de ese odio, ya que la madre tiene un com ...more
Ethan
Kind of a disturbing read (since the main relationship is an incestuous one between two brothers) but still a great book. The prose can be a little melodramatic at times, but the narrator has a very strong, defined voice that drew me in. The book has some wonderfully complex characters, and Gomez-Arcos does a great job of weaving together the family drama with the larger themes about life under the Franco regime. There's also some fun magical realism-y developments in which children are inhabite ...more
Ian
I read this perhaps 30yrs ago and still remember enjoying it.
Subaru
Everything about this book seemed artificial to me. I have no idea why it has only good reviews here.

The only good thing about the book (Little Sister's Classics edition), and the only reason for the two stars and not one, is the editing and additional materials.

If you feel like reading the book, don't buy The Carnivorous Lamb but borrow it form the library instead.
David
Wild ride from start to finish. Really smart book though. Read it.
Adam
brothers, aged 8 years apart, become lovers, and almost encouraged by a "freak"-obsessed mother and a disregarding father
couldn't help thinking it was a fucked up Adam and Eve and Cain and Able, incestuous family
beautifully written (translated), loved this, was distracted a little towards the end when the narrative switched to second person and we become the ghosts rather than just observing
very memorable novel
David Myers
I have finished this book and enjoyed it very much. It is a lyrical novel of gay rebellion immersed within the context of the failed Republican revolution against the fascists in Spain. The author writes about what he knows. He was censored by Frankoist fascists and emigrated to France so he could write free of oppression. He adopted a new country and a new language and became a great writer in both languages.
Scott
Though this was a regional allegory, specific to Franco-Spanish tensions, I was absorbed in this book. A true literary read, this novel depicts the steamy love (not just lust) between two brothers amidst their republican society and family. I can see how this novel was a cult classic in its publication.
Dale Prince
One of my favorite books ever. I worry about that a little since it's an incest book, but it really is beautiful. Should appeal to anyone who loves Southern Gothic even though it's a Spanish Civil War Gothic. Along with Pan's Labyrinth, a different kind of retelling of that story.
Jain
A fascinating book about a dysfunctional family (in which the consensual sibling incest manages to be one of the less unhealthy elements) and political repression in Franco's Spain. Lovely writing and a strong narrative voice complement the involving story.
Alastair
O rose, thou art sick. A clever, beautiful book about dark subjects. I shall have to read it again when it doesn't resemble the best & worst aspects of my relationship with the person who recommended it to me.
Lauren Ciccarelli
If you can get past the literal and lurk underneath the surface, you'll find a more than enjoyable world of beautifully written prose, irresistible love, and fantastic humor.

Who says allegory's dead?
Trent
Weird. A 1970s gay novel from Spain, recently reissued, about the Franco era. (The problem is--for me at least--that times have changed so quickly that what was once groundbreaking is now somewhat quaint.)
Rosemary
Allegorical criticism of Franco's Spain and its Catholic church told in terms of incestuous brotherly love. Evocative prose that can be read as a simple story, but not for the easily offended.
Robert Fucci
Read this book in 1975 when it first came out. I remember I liked it a lot, but now that one of the Groups are going to read the latest edition I think I will read it again.
VJ Summers
Hauntingly written - troubling - homoerotic incest and emotional abuse, but by the end of the story I wasn't sure who exactly was the abuser and who was the victim...
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Agustín Gómez-Arcos was a Spanish writer, anarchist and dramatist born in Almeria, Andalusia. He studied law but quit university for theater. However, some of his work was banned in Franco's Spain. Because of censorship Gomez-Arcos emigrated to London in 1966, then to Paris in 1968, where he settled and wrote primarily in French, often with themes condemning the fascist Spanish state. He died in P ...more
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“A priest is an enemy of society disguised as a sheep."

Mother laughed.

"No, professor!" burst out Antonio. "Maybe they dressed up as sheep in your day. Now, they don't even bother anymore."

"You're right about that, young man. In my time, they were killers. Today, they can't kill anymore, so they terrorize people and inform on them instead. It comes to the same thing.”
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