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Adventures of Maqroll: Four Novellas

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  729 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Four novellas by Colombian writer Alvaro Mutis continue the saga of the mythic hero introduced in the author's previous book, Maqroll, praised as "fascinating and original' (New York Times), "exquisite" (Los Angeles Times), and "spellbinding" (Boston Glove).
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 28th 1996 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

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I recommend this to no one. No one.

Read your post-moderns and your initialed ones. Be cognoscenti.

Let this be my secret. My adultery.

I may have found the book to take on the getaway spaceship.

Jesus, sweet Jesus, this was good.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Maqroll, O Maqroll.

Who are you? What are you?

You are the Gaviero. The Lookout. But that was when you were a boy, at the top of the mast, searching the horizons. Since then you have been a wanderer.

No one knows where you were born. You speak many langua
Mar 16, 2011 David marked it as the-overhead-bin  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb
I didn't want to wait until I finished all seven hundred pages of this thing before I stuck my big toe into the waters of literary criticism. That's the ostensible reason that I'm beginning this review at the half-way mark. The real reason is that I can't be expected to remember my precious thoughts and feelings about the beginning of Maqroll three hundred fifty pages hence.

* * * * *

A wise old man (who shall not presently be named) once criticized The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll for
A beautiful and comic voyage of a book that at different times will evoke Heart of Darkness, Greek tragedy, Moby Dick, Sinbad’s voyages, King Solomon’s Mines, narratives of Proust and Nabokov, the rogue casts of Pynchon and Dickens, Don Quixote, Journey to the End of the Night, and Borges. These seven novellas form one novel are filled with stories that are comically absurd, fraught with menace or existential doom, and or both at the same time. The at times anachronistic feeling of the narrative ...more
Ben Winch
Half of this book strikes me as brilliant, half as a testament to wasted talent. The brilliant bits can mostly be found in the earlier collection Maqroll, which comprises the first three of the seven novellas collected here. The first of these, 'The Snow of the Admiral' is easily the most potent, existing on another plane from the others entirely, and for this piece alone I give the book four stars. A first-person depiction, via a series of journal-entries, of a sinister boat journey up a South ...more
I came into this book looking for the same peach-colored richness I secretly desire whenever I inadvisedly order a fruity mixed drink at a bar; as so often happens during said fruity-drink orderings, I got about halfway through and realized that I was neither drunk nor particularly satisfied by the bland mango-and-lemon-rind taste. Someone has been trying to sell me an atmosphere, but it's one that I enjoyed more in Conrad's Polish grog. Or Kipling's shirley temples.
Compared to
Eddie Watkins
A great book for the armchair traveller with a metaphysical bent. It's a collection of seven novellas detailing the adventures of one Maqroll, easy-going adventurer and hard luck guy, as he gets into one ill-fated enterprise after another. The stories roam all over the globe, and are adorned with a surplus of naturalistic detail, but the whole book is coated with a fantastical mist. It reminded me of R. L. Stevenson (for its proferred joys of pure and effortless storytelling) with a touch of Bor ...more
I read and reread this book many times. Mostly I now open it at random and let Alvaro Mutis’ prose carry me to magical places. But Mutis writing, as beautiful and effortless as it is, pales on the strength of the character he created. Maqroll is an anti-hero always in the margins of society, always traveling from port to port, meeting people in an underworld of brothels and bars. Maqroll’s quest is never defined, and never attainable. He is a voyager from another realm, someone lost in a dream. ...more
Throughout the seven novellas contained in this hefty tome, Mutis guides us through the trials and tribulations of Maqroll, one of the most enchanting and enigmatic literary characters I've ever encountered. An incorrigible vagabond, Maqroll thrives on tramp steamers cris-crossing the seven seas trafficking cargo of questionable legality, drifting up anonymous South American rivers in search of elusive riches, and operating brothels in port towns, among other things. Mutis endows Maqroll with wo ...more
May 03, 2012 S.B. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to S.B. by: The Biblioklept
To be shelved among 'Very Important Books That Changed My Life.' Not because I'm hopping on the next ship to Mallorca, but just for Maqroll the Gaviero and his misfortunes. I can't imagine ever forgetting Maqroll. I know why Mutis started referring to him as a real person. It makes sense now and it's starting to make me feel a little nutso.

Well, probably one of my favorite books to come out of Latin America.
What's wrong with me? This book has a Stalinist rating on this site, but still I didn't like it. Also, I think I kind of had high expectations from a NYRB book. In other reviews I read that "The Snow of the Admiral" is the best story in the book, but I didn't even like that one, so I decided to stop reading the book there.

"The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll" is obviously well written, but the story isn't captivating. As a matter of fact, it just consists out of small, random and meaning
M. Milner
Maqroll travels with a shady Cypriot passport, takes odd jobs at sea and travels with almost nothing but the clothes on his back and a hardcover book or two. He’s known throughout the world, but his full name never gets mentioned. He’s just Maqroll or The Gaverio: the lookout.

Throughout this book he gets involved in arm smuggling, gold mines, a brothel and sawmills, often barely escaping with his life. Yet the stories are never as action-driven as you’d think: Maqroll drifts along, like a boat
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer. Nietzsche

(Otherwise: Yes-Philosophy; otherwise, again, Amor Fati)

Hookers and Hoes, Monkies and fools, this here peach colored book, written by a poet that sold out, that worked for MGM, a poet that was more than 70 at the start and who should be dead by now if only because it's too damn torturous to know he's probably too senile to write and one-- meaning, I might kill him myself-- because there's no waiting for another. Albeit, there are seven novellas, but all totaled they're bigger than some books that are too long already, but to short for a book this goo ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Daniel is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
11/23/14--The third novella, "Un Bel Morir," threw me, at first: a third-person narrative? Direct reference to what is going on in Maqroll's head and heart? And who the hell is this Belgian, anyway, and why isn't Maqroll putting on a con with his usual aptitude?

Now that I've finished the story, I get it what Mutis is after, and I think that he mostly succeeds in his efforts. I wonder if Mutis considered setting Maqroll aside after this story, then later changed his mind.

11/16/14--I finished the
This series of short novels suffers ever so slightly from diminishing returns until the last story blasts you in the face with awesome.

Every page is infused with Mutis’ love of humanity and the tenuous but powerful connection between friends, while dripping with negative emotions regarding our species. There were a few times I came close to smiling while crying.

Big recommendation for anyone who tried to read “Heart of Darkness” or finished and hated it. The first novella tells a very similar sto
I thought about starting it right over from the beginning after finishing it, but decided to wait so I could look forward to it. Life-changing?
Jacob Wren
Álvaro Mutis writes:

I don’t know who’s worse, the marines or the smugglers. For years they’ve been fighting each other all along this part of the river, but in the end their methods are the same: they use cruelty without anger, in cold blood, but with a professional refinement and imagination that grow more and more terrifying. Their law is the law of conquest: whoever lives here is guilty, period. And both sides enforce the law on the spot and move onto something else. God help us.


There is
Possessed by wanderlust, Maqroll passes through the sordid depths of humanity like a Plinko chip - subconsciously propelling himself from one adventure to the next so as to escape the nightmare that incessantly pursues him: a banal and mediocre existence. One line from the epigraph of chronicle two of Triptych on Sea and Land concisely explains the metaphysics guiding Maqroll's existence: We brought with us only time to live between the lightning and the wind.

Read this book to help remind you th
Maqroll the Gaviero (Maqroll the Lookout) had a crazy globe-trotting life filled with adventure, sex, gunplay, mystery and the supernatural. This book is from the point of view of Maqroll, but Maqroll downplays his crazy adventures and focuses on the loss and pain of history and time. He focuses on what was lost; on what slides through the fingers of a man who can't put down roots. This book is a memoir from a melancholic and philosophical adventurer.

This is an adventure story for adults. The g
Robert Mann
Maqroll 'the Gaviero' is one of the most quietly compelling and intriguing characters in all of literature. It almost seems a travesty to call him a character, because Gaviero is so meticulously realized and chronicled that one can't help but suspect that Mutis is relating the remarkable odyssey of one he knows intimately.

Maqroll is possessed by an insatiable wanderlust that knows not its origin nor its purpose. Maqroll hides his nomadic urge for displacement behind an illusory guise of purpose
I have put off writing this, as if by writing my review I am closing the book on Maqroll, a book I almost flipped back to the front to read all over again, so not ready am I to end my association with him.
While I can’t say that this book has changed my life, it has awakened something in me. Maqroll, the endless wanderer, and one of the most perfect yet flawed characters ever laid down on paper, has nurtured and grown my own inescapable wanderlust and his adventures have come at at time when I ha
My computer is broken and I was going to wait to write about Maqroll. Instead, because I loved this book i'll write on my iphone, a much more perilous undertaking. It is seven approximately 100 page novellas written over twenty year span (I need to fact check this). They tell the adventures in non chronological order of one Maqroll the Gaviaro (which refers to his serving in that job as a youth). Gaviaro, as his friends use the name also seems to imply he is the Avante Guard positioned to warn h ...more
Maqroll, a man of uncertain origins, is a wanderer. Unlike Don Quixote he is not deluded by a fanciful dream of a bygone era of chivalry and glory. Unlike Odysseus he is not yearning for home as war and fate delay his return for twenty years. Maqroll is a wanderer by choice, a man without a home or a desire for one. He lives and works on the margins of the law, in ports and river ways, mines and freighters, among adventurers, criminals, anarchists, prostitutes, thieves, soldiers, police, anarchi ...more
Juan Hidalgo
Llegué a las "Empresas y tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero" buscando libros sobre la mar y sobre marinos, aventuras en lugares remotos para viajar cómodamente desde la butaca. También la portada me ayudó a decidirme por esta obra: la imagen, a través del ojo de buey, de lo que en la historia se denomina "Tramp steamer", un viejo carguero, un buque en cuya denominación inglesa ya tenemos la palabra que quizá define principalmente al protagonista (tramp, vagabundo).

El Gaviero es, según Álvaro Mu
[Spanish first, English below.]

"La Nieve del Almirante" es espectacular, una joya de narración contemporánea. "Ilona llega con la lluvia" también es muy buena, además de "Un bel morir". La poesía de la narración de Mutis en estas tres novelas toca muy a fondo. Además las historias son muy buenas -- muy interesantes, llenas de acción y también de filosofía. La escritura de Mutis en las tres primeras novelas es un ejemplar extraordinario de la literatura moderna.

Lastimosamente,no me gustó tanto
Bob Hamilton
I've just finished the first of the seven novellas (Snow of the Admiral) contained in this volume. I loved it. There's very little plot. It's all about the characters and Maqroll's wonderful digressions. It probably wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but if you love language and beautiful prose, then this is for you. As a taste, this is the captain of the river barge describing his experience of falling in love:

Everything changed when I met the girl. She penetrated a corner of my soul that had bee
Damian Murphy
These stories are among my favorites ever, anywhere. Maqroll the Gaviero ('the lookout') leads a life of tireless wandering, always seeking fortune, always failing to find it due to unforeseeable obstacles and unfortunate occurrences, most of which nearly destroy him. The constant stream of failures hardly seems to matter. It is Maqroll's spiritual destiny to move through the most remote and desolate spaces that this planet has to offer. Most often this involves amorous encounters with what can ...more
Laura  Yan
The first half of this epic volume would get six stars from me. Maqroll is one of the most memorable characters I've met in Latin American literature, and his seriously bad case of melancholic wanderlust is wonderful to get lost in. This is like the best travel book I've ever read only it's fiction. The language and scenery and backstories are lush and gorgeous, and the moods Mutis captures are exquisite. But pure mood/language can only last for so long before it began to lost some of its luster ...more
Mõned tsitaadid, so far, tagant ette:

Sometimes I wonder in desolate rage if I met her when it was too late, when I could no longer deal with so much life-giving joy, when the response that might have prolonged my happiness had already died... Some thing come to soon and others come too late, but we only find out when there's nothing to be done, when we've already bet against ourselves.

As I think about it now, I realize that when life caves in on us, the first feeling to be blunted is pity. Human
An amazing book, the sea advetures of someone like Conrad you would read in highschool, mixed with the melancholy of the beats and the playful postmoderism found in the best south american fiction. The seven novellas mostly follow the pattern of following the protaganist Maqroll as he arrives in som exotic place, pursues some dangerous and hopeless scheme, makes passionate love to a local woman, and then it all ends in death and brooding reflction. Two of the later novellas differ, mainly in tha ...more
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NYRB Classics: The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, by Álvaro Mutis 1 5 Oct 18, 2013 10:53AM  
The travels of Maquoll 1 18 Oct 22, 2012 08:38PM  
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“Everything changed when I met the girl. She penetrated a corner of my soul that had been kept sealed and even I didn't know was there. With her gestures, the scent of her skin, her sudden, intense glances that filled me with overwhelming tenderness, with her dependence that was a kind of unthinking, absolute acceptance, she could rescue me instantly from my confusions and obsessions, my discouragement and failure, or my simple daily routine, and leave me inside a radiant circle made of throbbing energy and powerful certainty, like the effects of an unknown drug that produces unconditional happiness.” 13 likes
“Life always holds in store surprises that are more complex and unforeseeable than any dream, and the secret is to let them come and not block them with castles in the air.” 12 likes
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