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The Cardboard House

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Published in 1928 to great acclaim when its author was just twenty years old, The Cardboard House is sweeping and passionate. The novel presents a series of flashes — scenes, moods, dreams, and weather — as the narrator wanders through Barranco (then an exclusive seaside resort outside Lima). In one stunning passage after another, he skips from reveries of first loves, Sou ...more
Hardcover, 103 pages
Published March 28th 1990 by Graywolf Press (first published 1928)
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3.94  · 
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 ·  295 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Mike Puma
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you know who you are
Recommended to Mike by: Kris
Shelves: peruvian-author, 2013

It must have something to do with the presence of the paragraph. That which makes it obvious that one isn’t reading poetry. The paragraph, distinguished from those lines of eneven lengths, which may or may not rhyme. The presence of paragraphs, that tell me, just maybe, I’ll be able to understand what I’m preparing to read. Wonderful, wonderful paragraphs.

But, there are those damned prose poems. Those deceptive paragraphs which, may or may not, yield up meaning, or understanding, or anything tha

Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brian by: Kris Rabberman; Proustitute
Adán's words work like memory: not a long and spooling high-def replaying of people and events, but razor sharp fragments that can injure if mishandled.

The sea is a soul we once had, that we cannot find, that we barely remembered as our own, a soul that is always different along every esplanade.

This book is a proem, a masterful use of language that tells a story that isn't a story. It is un-put-down-able. It can be devoured in a sitting. But it has the heuristic timbre of a millennium old devoti
Vit Babenco
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Cardboard House is a gallery of exquisite vignettes that are as colourful and bright as the talented impressionist’s miniatures of the world, of himself, of human beings, of love…
Beyond the fields: the sierra; before the fields: a creek lined with alder trees and women washing clothes and children, all the same color of indifferent dirt. It is two o’clock in the afternoon. The sun struggles to free its rays from the branches into which it has fallen captive. The sun — a rare, hard, golden, l
Ben Winch
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: Mike Puma
For those curious about Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva or Viscount Lascano Tegui’s On Elegance While Sleeping, get this instead; I wish I did. Instead, sheer luck ordained that I’d stumble across it at my new local library – a tiny clapboard place near the beach in a sleepy town that's hardly the Barranco but isn't too dissimilar – only a week or so after Mike Puma's review. What is it? A kind of prose-poem, or a series of them, or a prose-piece made of fragments that often ascend to poetry. At t ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
the only prose work from martín adán, the cardboard house (la casa de cartón) was originally published in 1928 when the peruvian poet was twenty years young. set in the barranco district of lima, the cardboard house came to be an influential work preceding the latin american boom. nearly plotless, the story follows a young narrator around the city's resort area as he makes fragmentary observations about the intriguing sights and individuals he encounters along his way. with rich, descriptive, an ...more
M. Sarki
A remarkable "first book" written by an eighteen year-old kid. I have trouble believing he did not have help either with the original publisher or translator of the time. The distinguished and mature sophistication exhibited was unbelievable for a kid that age and my bull-shit radar was smoking from being over-worked. Nonetheless, credit is due this beautiful work. Reading like a long prose poem the images were dreamlike and lyrical, however there was no character or event I ever connected with. ...more
This is outstanding. Every sentence combines words in ways we never employ in daily life, but make imaginative sense here. Adan describes his world, in the Barranco suburb of Lima in the 1920s. Surreal, essential, wild, bitter, erotic, youthful--a wonderful book.
An ice cream vendor’s trumpet drew attention to a nocturnal howling of dogs, symphony of tin and moon, rip-roaring from the beginning, a rip that exposed black, canine palates bristling with taste buds as hard as calluses. If their singing could be musically annotated, it would have to be done on a temperature scale, on graph paper, with a dotted line, with odd numbers. Musical skeleton. Forty-two degrees Fahrenheit: a fatal fever. A whirlwind of light and dust rises to the sun from a nearby fie
Juan Carlos Santillán
No es prosa. No es poesía. Es un manual de cómo hacer origami con el Castellano. Bellísimo.
Daniel Ágreda-Sánchez
Esta obra aborda muchas cosas, y las que no, no es que no se aborden sino que el lector no las intuye. Suerte de poemario en prosa, narra la historia del final de la adolescencia - final de la época escolar - final del verano - transcurso del día a la noche - metáfora de una vida entera, en la cual cada elemento es un personaje con su propia historia, paralela a la principal, y cada personaje es un elemento —como los jacarandas que son personas y las personas que son jacarandas, entre otras much ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: litworld2018gb
#readaroundtheworld Peru

This kaleidoscope of staccato writing was surprisingly appealing to me
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Arlo by: Goodreads reccomendation machine--my library had it too
Just because something reads like poetry doesn't necessarily make it a good ride. This translation felt sterile to me. The language was nice at times but at no time did it rock me or touch my soul like Neruda does at times.
So it could of just been lost on me, but it didn't have any soul or grab me.
Sebastian Uribe
Un libro que a mi parecer es un largo poema en prosa. Pero que también es más que eso, y acuso humildemente a mi condición de lector aun inexperto el aun no comprenderlo del todo. Pero de lo poco que he podido apreciar de tu lectura destaco sus imagines poderosas, la prosa impecable y la evocación de un mundo intimo como pocas veces he leido en la literatura peruana.
Sep 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detestables
No me ha gustado para nada.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read on the flight from Bogota to Lima to get ready to walk the streets of Barranco, a cool mishmash of reflections and poetic musings, reminded me a bit of Lispector, totally dug it.
Jonathan Bogart
My rating can only be provisional: this is not a book captured in one reading (or, I would guess, many), and certainly cannot be judged entirely on its English translation, even though it's an admirable translation. I came to it as a novel (it was billed as such in Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez's study of avant-garde Latin American novels of the 20s, which I read back in October) but it's really a collection of prose poems, impressionistic sketches and brief stream-of-consciousness monologues cente ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of the books I’ve found only because of Goodreads recommendations while I was reading some South American authors, so thanks Goodreads!

Goodreads recommend it after I’ve read the wonderful Clarice Lispector, and since she’s now one of my all-time favorites, I can’t help but compare these two.

Maybe comparing isn’t really the right word. This book, amazingly, came out in 1928, which is pretty outstanding if you think about its writing style and its insights, while Lispector was mostly
Juma Paredes
siento mientras leo a Martín que entro un poco en mí, así escribo, así me siento; de pronto siento lo que ha de sentir el resto al leer las líneas que suelo escribir: "un bochorno", "un fastidio encerrado, la sombra interminable de una misa de cuatro horas"; es cuando me dicen "cambia" y después "deja de escribir". Lo siento, no me adhiero, al contrario, me siento y sigo escribiendo..
Valky Salinas
Como alguien a quien no le gusta mucho la poesía, no puedo decir que me haya gustado en su totalidad. Algunos pasajes me han encantado, pero otros se me han hecho tediosos a más no poder. En todo caso, me ha gustado el estilo de escritura de Martín Adán (en general). Es un poco más digerible que el común de la poesía (por lo menos el que usa en este libro).
Fabricio Alarcón
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hermosa novela poética, desde los apuntes más breves a los más extensos, un deleite al ser leído, las palabras: el orden y sus diferentes combinaciones. Precoz y a la vez madura teniendo en cuenta que fue publicada cuándo el autor tenía 19 años. Una joya de la vanguardia peruana.
Logann Merritt
One of the most gorgeously written novels I've ever experienced, made all the more inspiring by the fact that the author was twenty years old at the novel's publication. Way to make me feel like a failure at six years your senior, Adán, you brilliant bastard.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5/5 - stunning.
Lorelei Armstrong
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Get the feeling I'll be rereading this one forty or fifty times.
Sheyla Chevarria Aredo
Lo leería mil veces.
RD Chiriboga Moncayo
Striking beautiful language, an almost plot-less narrative and very few characters distinguish this groundbreaking novel of Spanish American Literature.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
The only novel by the Peruvian poet Martin Adan. A Hallucinegenic vision of everyday life in Lima - a young man walks the streets where memory and life collide in poetic phrases.
Brett Miller
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a marvelous little book. He squeezes more imagery into each paragraph, each sentence even that they could blossom into stories of their own.
Jonathan yates
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not a narrative story, it was just a bunch of pretty mental snapshots of moments. =
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Martín Adán, pseudonym of Rafael de la Fuente Benavides, was a Peruvian poet whose body of work is notable for its hermeticism and metaphysical depth.

Martín Adan's first book was the novel La casa de cartón (The Cardboard House). Published in 1928 when the author was only 20 years old, The Cardboard House was influenced by the Avant-garde and is one of the best examples of Peruvian narrative of it
“If you let it be known that you are a
poet, you will be sent to the police
“If you let it be known that you are a
poet, you will be sent to the police
More quotes…