The Insatiable Spiderman by Pedro Juan Gutierrez - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare


The Insatiable Spiderman


Faber & Faber 162pp £6.99

Diderot said that there is a little bit of testicle in the most sublime sentiments and refined tenderness. With Pedro Juan Gutierrez you get a lot of testicle and precious little tenderness. As for sublime sentiments, forget it. This is fiction with cojones. When the Dirty Havana Trilogy was published three years ago it was banned in Gutierrez's native Cuba and earned him comparisons with Henry Miller. A picaresque novel, it charts the fortunes of Pedro Juan (the author's alter ego), who narrates his adventures as he trawls the streets of Havana seeking sexual thrills. The Insatiable Spiderman marks the return of Gutierrez’s nihilistic anti-hero whose daily diet consists of rum, cigars and sweaty copulation.

Pedro Juan is a fifty-year-old short story writer who likes reading, painting and listening to Brahms. Although a cultured fellow, he is congenitally unfaithful to his wife and lusts after black women with big arses. He describes his own existence as ‘sordid and senseless’. From the opening page you are

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