Kenneth Taber did a great job of writing about the events and lives of the people in the fictitious town of El Avispero. The name of the town, located in Altanero County, also happens to be the title of Taber’s novel.
El Avispero opens with the beginnings of a city council meeting. It doesn’t take long for the reader to catch onto the humor of the names of some of the characters. If you look closely at the spelling of some of the names, you can quickly get a glimpse into their personalities. After the first chapter, or part one of the very last chapter, you begin to read about the background of the citizens of El Avispero. The timeframe of the chapters is one year before the city council meetings. The lives of the characters unfold and develop in continuous chapters. As new, very minor characters are introduced, the play on names and personalities is present again.
It was interesting reading who all of the characters in the novels were, as well as their roles in the town. The one difficulty I had related to the characters was that I couldn’t seem to figure out who that one main character was. In addition to the names of the characters in El Avispero, another humorous aspect relates to the acronyms that are formed when titles of the committees are given throughout the book.
The main dilemma in the book–the reason for the city council meeting–is whether a section of land in El Avispero should be developed for affordable housing. As you can probably guess, different members of the town were on different sides. Being on different sides led to the plot being developed.
As I was reading El Avispero, I found the occasional Spanish sentences distracting. While the English translation is given, my eyes were jumping past the Spanish sentences to the English ones. It is obvious that the native language of some of the characters would have been Spanish. By the way, the title of this novel translates to wasp nest, which could be a good way to describe events in a small town when there are opposing sides centered on a huge issue. I enjoyed reading this novel because the storyline held my interest. I couldn’t wait to read what was going to happen next for the cast of characters. The author was also creative with his use of humor, which made me laugh. My reason for giving El Avispero 4 stars and not 5 was because, for me, I needed a central main character to focus on. In addition, on the pages, where there was Spanish dialogue; my eyes were jumping around quickly to the English translation.
Overall, I liked El Avispero. If you enjoy reading stories about towns, and getting to know the people who reside in such places, pick up this book. Even if you don’t regularly read such books, this novel is an enjoyable one. You will laugh while reading Taber’s book.