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Dr. Brinkley's Towerby Robert Hough
Synopses & Reviews
A riotous tale of love and lust, valor and villainy on the Mexican frontier of the 1930s.
Robert Hough’s vivid and wildly imaginative novel takes us to 1931 Mexico and Corazón de la Fuente, a war-ravaged border town where the only enterprise is a brothel in which every girl is called Maria. Enter, from north of the border, Dr. Romulus Brinkley, inventor of a miraculous “goat gland operation” said to cure sexual impotence. When Brinkley decides to build a gargantuan new radio tower to broadcast his services throughout the United States, he chooses none other than Corazón de la Fuente for its site.
The town’s fortunes change overnight, but not all to the good – word of the new prosperity spreads, and Corazón is overrun with desperadoes and mercenaries itching to reopen old wounds. Worst of all, Dr. Brinkley has attracted the affections of the town’s most beautiful citizen, Violeta Cruz. But with the help of a motley band of allies, Violeta’s spurned fiancé, Francisco, decides to fight back.
Inspired by the monstrous shenanigans of a real life American con man and peopled with unforgettable characters, Dr. Brinkley’s Tower captures a young Mexico caught between its own ambitions and the designs of its wealthier neighbor to the north.
"An impoverished Mexican border town languishes in the aftermath of the Mexican revolution in Robert Hough's (The Final Confession of Mabel Stark) lackluster fourth novel. The residents of CorazÃ³n de la Fuente have had little to look forward to since revolutionary fighting tore their village apart. So when Dr. Brinkley, an American millionaire, chooses their town to build a radio tower, the villagers are delighted. Although some have reservations about Brinkley, who claims he can cure impotence with his goat gland implantation technique, the economic prospects change most of their minds. After all, the town's steadiest earners thus far have been the madam and her working girls. As the tower goes up, 'the worry so firmly etched into the faces of the townspeople eased, making room for expressions of gaiety.' Francisco Ramirez, a strong-willed teen, takes advantage of the upswing and begins to teach English in order to impress the beautiful Violeta with flowers and sodas. The cantina owner and the madam hire new help to keep up with demand, and the lightened atmosphere leads to strange romantic connections. However, the townspeople quickly learn that Dr. Brinkley might not be the savior they imagined, and that money brings problems as well as prosperity. Unfortunately, a scattered narrative and cardboard characters leave the novel sluggish and colorless." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Equal parts Mark Twain and Gabriel García Márquez, Robert Hough's wildly imaginative new novel takes the reader to 1931 and Corazón de la Fuente, a tiny Mexican border town. Dr. Brinkley’s Tower is inspired by the monstrous shenanigans of American con artist Dr. John Romulus Brinkley – whose life was captured by Pope Brock in Charlatan – but it is historical fiction of a different sort. Hough's aim is not to dramatize the true story of Brinkley’s border blaster radio tower and the money that flowed from his fraudulent goat gland fertility treatment. Rather, he uses a few facts from Brinkley’s well documented career to set the stage for the townspeople of Corazón, whose lives are thrown into disarray and changed forever under the scheming doctor’s influence. Peopled with unforgettable characters and capturing a young Mexico caught between its own ambitions and the imperialist designs of its neighbor to the north, Dr. Brinkley's Tower is a stunning achievement in storytelling.
About the Author
Robert Hough's debut novel, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. His second novel, The Stowaway, was a finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Award and chosen by the Boston Globe as one of the top ten fiction titles of 2004. His third novel, The Culprits, was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Prize, the Commonwealth Award for Best Book (Canada and the Caribbean), and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. He lives in Toronto.
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