Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
As much about myth, literature, and language as it is about worldly existence, Holy Place consists of a series of incompletely connected and suggestive episodes in the troubled life of its narrator, Guillermo Nervo. Nicknamed “Guillermito” (the diminutive shows endearment but also condescension), or simply “Mito” (Spanish for “myth”), Nervo unfolds as a parasitic decadent, a Baudelairian dandy totally dependent on and infatuated with his castrating mother, the protean film star Claudia. Guillermo moves from idolizing her and aspiring to be her lover to trying to arouse her jealously by taking Bela as a lover. A measure of his failure emerges when, after losing Claudia to his rival Giancarlo, he resorts to transvestitism in an attempt to possess his mother by becoming her. In the final chapter, he is transformed into a dog and must watch his maid and her lover desecrate his apartment, a literalizing of his neurotically servile role and an unequivocal announcement of the provisional completion of his fall. “Happily Ever After,” as the opening tableau is titled, thus proves to be a doubly misleading indicator, for it both appears out of its conventional place and evokes the contrary of the novel’s eventual outcome.
(The entire section is 198 words.)
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