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A Love Triangle In Time Warp


Waheed Rabbani

IN THE SHADOW OF THE CONQUISTADOR
By Shane Joseph
Blue Denim Press, 2015, pp. 236, $22.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 4 April 2016

Our story must have a better ending than the Inca’s. Or else we wouldn’t have progressed in five hundred years. In a recent interview, US President Barack Obama said, ‘when I think about how I understand my role as citizen, setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels.’ Shane Joseph’s latest book, In The Shadow of the Conquistador, is indeed one such novel from which we can learn much. While on its surface it might appear to be a lovetriangle romantic story, it has a lot to offer in our understanding of the human spirit that at times lusts for conquest and colonization, but can develop bonds of friendship which sometimes lead to betrayal, and yet through the power to love it can overcome evil. The novel begins in contemporary Toronto when Jeremy (Jimmy) Spence, a retired university professor, receives an e-mail unexpectedly from his childhood school friend, George Walton, inviting him on a trip to trek up to the famous Machu Pichu in Peru. The letter is a surprise for Jimmy, for on account of some personal differences and George having moved to Vancouver, he had not met nor heard from George for nearly twenty years. Although Jimmy thinks that Peru in the November rainy season might not be ideally suited for trudging up the cold mountain, he relents, feeling guilty at not having kept in touch with his life-long friend. His interest is also piqued when George mentions that having given up on academia he is heavily into colonial history and is writing a book about Peru, attempting to discover himself. Their meeting in Lima, while starting somewhat shakily, is like that of long-lost friends and they soon settle, over food and drinks, into reminiscing their past. Jimmy finds the paunchy and greying George just as fast-talking and—from his suggestion that they procure some local prostitutes—oversexed as ever. He still possesses his violent nature that again gets him in trouble and ends up getting beaten, and his camera smashed. George finds Jimmy ‘still bone thin’, and when Jimmy informs him that he has been exercising regularly, George responds, while concealing his own terminal illness, ‘You plan meticulously, Jimmy. Gotta leave room for the unexpected.’ While it seems strange ...


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