The barbarian nurseries

When one, Sasha "the Big Man" Avakian, makes a comment about the unweeded garden, Maureen, the suburban Lady Macbeth of the piece, steps toward him with fury.

Héctor Tobar

The truth of what happened is already disappearing beneath layers of invention, much as history itself accretes and gathers upon any patch of ground, even in an environment as ostensibly new as SoCal.

I think this book deserves to be a modern classic. But they were real. Then everybody else turns and sees "what the Big Man and Maureen had seen: Araceli Ramirez is an immigrant housekeeper in her late 20s.

They both are and are not sympathetic people. Scott is a computer geek paper millionaire working at a start-up. There were times when it was almost a satire, but not quite.

His travelers stumble around this unfamiliar place like a lost band of Marco Polos. Is there a profound message in this book? And by telling a good story with vibrant and detailed characters, he makes the story interesting.

Book review: 'The Barbarian Nurseries'

In life, some connections go begging while others get randomly made, with fateful consequences. High-strung Maureen has secreted herself at a spa. But when a series of ill-timed miscommunications lead Scott and Maureen both to leave the house for several days, each believing that their two boys are with the other one, Araceli is stuck with them.

She is not a "heroine. Scott and Maureen really are pretty ordinary upper-middle class Californians with major materialistic blindness. The specific circumstances that cause Scott and Maureen to be unaware that they left their kids with the housekeeper for four days, and that cause Araceli to decide that she needs to take them across L.

The cost is huge, and Scott flips when he learns about it, leading to a fight, from which Maureen flees with daughter Samantha. Maureen is the very model of a nice progressive white lady who thinks racism and sexism and other isms are just ever so awful, while enjoying her stay-at-home mom status with floors washed, toilets scrubbed, meals cooked, and lawns gardened by underpaid Mexicans.

Their adventure turns into an even more farcical comedy of errors involving the police, politicians, celebrities, political activists and race-baiters, with Araceli caught in a media firestorm.

Now her hands are covered in suds as a housekeeper in El Norte. I think what it was most missing, for me, was humor. But he does exactly what Dickens and Austen and Trollope and Eliot, et al did — in telling a story about characters caught in a particular time and place in rather contrived situations, he tells us about that milieu.

Scott and his wife, Maureen, throw a party. But all is not well in Laguna Rancho Estates Tobar has a lovely, funny way with names and titles. When she goes out and orders an expensive landscaping job, just as Scott has let go all but one of their Mexican help because the recession has devastated their savings and his company is struggling, it precipitates a conflict that leads to the second half of the novel.

Most of the two dozen or so guests are former colleagues from the MindWare programming company they all created together back in the heady, hopeful days. Scott is utterly emasculated, Maureen is utterly emasculating, without being deliberately cruel. Scott Torres, a new-technology whiz who knows his best money days are already behind him, has just let go the nanny and the gardener, for whom Araceli yearned and whose old cotton shirts were "an abstract expressionist whirlwind of greens, clayish ocher, and blacks made by grass, soil, and sweat.

A day passes without contact. They head northward, "to a distant land called Los Angeles. The milieu here is 21st century Los Angeles.

Data Protection Choices

Like most of the above-mentioned social commentarians, Tobar centers the story in a well-to-do household, that of Scott Torres and Maureen Torres-Thompson.

But we found this other place instead, where there are houses like jails I guess ….

The Barbarian Nurseries

The barbarian nurseries liked it a lot, but it falls short of true greatness. Scott storms out too. Scott indulges in a hour bacchanalia with a secretary from work. But still, definitely a recommended read. As a student in Mexico City, she had ambitions to be an artist.

Within the day, a new garden is in place, a bleak beauty comprising tons of sand and low-maintenance "barbed and spiny" plants from the desert.The Barbarian Nurseries is a story of Aricele, an undocumented Mexican maid, who one day wakes to find herself alone with the two young sons of her employers, Scott and Maureen.

After days pass and neither of the parents has returned, Aricele sets out across LA with the boys in an attempt to find their grandfather. The Barbarian Nurseries (Book): Tobar, Héctor: After the husband and wife that she works for disappear, live-in maid Araceli takes their two boys on a journey through sprawling Los Angeles to locate their grandfather.

With The Barbarian Nurseries, Héctor Tobar gives our most misunderstood metropolis its great contemporary novel, taking us beyond the glimmer of Hollywood and deeper than camera-ready crime stories to reveal Southern California life as it really is, across its vast, sunshiny sprawl of classes, languages, dreams, and ambitions.

Araceli is the live-in. “The Barbarian Nurseries is a dark, poignant and hilarious tale of a family maid in Southern California who tries to hold things together as a marriage falls apart That Tobar is so evenhanded, so compassionate, so downright smart, should place his new novel on everyone's must-read list.”/5().

Héctor Tobar (bornLos Angeles) His third book, The Barbarian Nurseries, is a sweeping novel about class and ethnic conflict in modern Southern California: it was named a New York Times Notable Book for and won the California Book Award gold medal for fiction.

Captivating and provocative, The Barbarian Nurseries holds a mirror up to the many faces of contemporary California. We hope this guide will enrich your experience of Héctor Tobar's uproarious examination of the new American Dream/5(31).

The barbarian nurseries
Rated 4/5 based on 83 review