Carnivorous Lamb

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Press: Gay Men's Press (March 18, 1994)
Author Name:Gomez-Arcos, Agustin


The latest in the Little Sister’s Classics series resurrecting gay and lesbian literary gems: a viciously funny, shocking yet ultimately moving 1975 novel, an allegory of Franco’s Spain, about a young gay man (the self-described “carnivorous lamb”) coming of age with a mother who despises him, a father who ignores him, and a brother who loves him.Author Agustin Gomez-Arcos left his native Spain for France in the 1960s to escape its censorship policies. 
The Carnivorous Lamb, originally written in French, won the Prix Hermes, and this, its 1984 English translation, was widely acclaimed.

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Agustin Gomez-Arcos (1939-1998) was a Spanish anarchist, dramatist, and novelist. 
Due to censorship issues, he fled to England, then Paris, where he wrote numerous novels (primarily in French) about Franco?s Spain.
The Carnivorous Lamb won the Prix Hermes in France, and he was twice a finalist for the Prix Goncourt.
Jamie O'Neill is the author of the acclaimed novel At Swim, Two Boys.


Gay & Lesbian,Literature & Fiction,Fiction,Gay,Contemporary,Genre Fiction

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Comment List (Total:13)

  •     The NYC LGBT Center book group discussed this book in January 2010. It came with high recommendations. We had a good sized group turn out to discuss it, but...Wow. A couple of readers liked this book and found the writing to be - although tough at first - ultimately seductive and enthralling. A couple of readers found it all very creepy and disturbing - one reader found it so off-putting that he couldn't finish it. The story takes place in Spain under the Fascist rule of Franciso Franco. Crazy narcissistic Mom (who's a good Catholic) and formerly powerful communist Dad (who really doesn't appear in the novel, having been banished to his office) have two very handsome sons who have orgasmic sex with each other a lot. They're separated and then they get together again (after Mom and Dad are both dead) to live happily ever after. The maid, who presents some of the material - including the wedding of the two brothers at the end of the novel - is the most sane and normal and sympathetic character presented.The (new) introduction to this book says that it's an allegory. I believe that the point is that Spain (represented by Catholic mom and Communist dad) has become so corrupt and crazy under Franco that anything that it produces is weird and incomprehensible (like the creepy younger brother, who keeps his eyes closed for 16 days after birth). Personally, I was pulled into the story over and over again by the flowery language and beautiful imagery, but then disturbed by the weird incest. Everyone agreed that many of the scenes are completely over the top, as imagined by a wild drag queen, sometimes in a good funny way, but usually in a horrifying overly theatrical way. Knowing a little about Franco and Spain helps a little too, unless you ignore the allegory and just read it for the language. Maybe it's romantic and beautiful, or intentionally hair-raising and scary. I'm not sure. Maybe it's both, and that's the point.I give it two stars for the language and to represent those readers who liked the book. It seems like too much of a cult item to be of interest for book groups or general readers.
  •     It's allegorical! The Spanish Civil War, exile, repression, infidelity, self-absorption, and a deeply passionate love between bothers/lovers make this novel an unforgettable experience. It's a psychological thriller and a tour de force narrative, portraying and analyzing the relationship between the narrator and his drama-queen of a mother, a reclusive defeated father, and a ravishing relationship with his brother. And all of it commentary on the Franco regime and its impact on Spain. Ingenious, powerful and thrilling!
  •     It was just all right. The style was trying to be something that it was not.a bizarre idea. Colorfully written.
  •     3 of 5 stars –This is an interesting, well-written story of the young gay narrator’s growing up in a dysfunctional family and his incestuous relationship with his older...
  •     Agustin Gomez-Arcos, The Carnivorous Lamb (David R. Godine, 1975)I find myself somewhat astonished that a book this explicit was published in 1975.
  •     Of all the many books I've read, this is my favorite.
  •     I just stumbled on to this book while I was roaming through recommendations one day. I can tell you this is the sort of thing I have hoped I was purchasing and ended up getting...
  •     ((I award a Secondary Title for this review: "A One-Of-A-Kind Take on Brotherly Love")) I can't tell you if this was a beautifully written book.......but I can advise you that it is a beautifully translated tale. Since it was first published in French (I know only a few phrases and a number of individual words), I cannot quarrel the earlier, Paris-residing reviewer who seems to think not so much of this translation. But, to this reader, to me, the translated writing seems near perfect, making this one of those few books to un-shelf from time to time and in which to become quickly engrossed.It's a love story......but one probably unlike any you've read before (its nature has been described elsewhere in these reviews). And it is also a history lesson--one told from very personal points of view (as so much of history is told). But mostly, it's a tale which tells us that love in any guise can be found between two people, no matter their situation one to the other, and that as the strongest of our emotions it can redeem us from the worst difficulties we may think we face.****
  •     ...but it obviously was one. The house evidently represented Spain, and everyone in it ostensibly exemplified different aspects of Spanish society, but after finishing the book I...
  •     Rating: 10/10PROS:- Phenomenal writing. I read this simultaneously in English and French (my French is functional, at best), but I can't comment, as other...
  •     Amazing, amazing, amazing.
  •     I read this book a long time ago but it deserves to have a review because I loved everything about it. Beautiful writing, full of emotions and rich characterization. Beware: it contains incest and most of the sexual innuendoes start when the protagonists are very very young so keep that in mind. I'm not into incest but the story makes you root for them when they're apart by the harsh circumstances of life. It is very political too but everything is amazingly well written so even if you're not into politics you'll enjoy it. If you care for a complex well written story and are open minded, then this book is for you.
  •     ...this book was so beautifully written and so subversive that I just had to. I hope more people read it, it's so much more than the story of two gay brothers.

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