Oh god, this is pretty much the hardest book I've ever had to read. Who calls it the best Latin American dictator novel, why do they say that, and where are they? I'd like to understand its greatness a bit more... I think I actually liked The President more.
Moving on, what makes this a more painful read is its descriptions. A good example of the density of his descriptions is on page 233: "The Republic turns, slowly and majestically, toward the audience. She stands firmly on her scissored legs. The two blades spread slightly apart. Pubis shaved completely bare. Bathed in broken reflections, patches of light. Phosphorescent flashes- achiote, bija, orellana, tapaculo, uruku- turn it into a black sun. Likewise her mouth." This description continues on to the next page.
Why is it necessary to have all of these obtuse descriptions throughout the book? If you cut each weird metaphor he uses in half, this book would be half the length and somewhat more bearable to read. Okay, I'll stop complaining now.
I think what makes this book unintentionally humorous is how over the top it can be, even to the very last page, when Patino's describing the "ex" Supreme's slow, subtle descent into death, I almost began to laugh at how ridiculously bad it was. Maybe that's just my sense of humor, but it does begin to retract the ultimate powerful message of the book when every description must be drawn out into a slow, subtle torture in itself.
The second to last page (423) I thought was one of the best in the book, when it becomes clear that the author is really talking to The Supreme and drawing the crushing realization for him that ultimately revolution will carry out his fate in the end.
More specifically, one of my favorite lines from the book is also on page 423: "You misread the will of the People and as a consequence you misused your power, as your dotard's affections spun about gerontropically in the vacuum of your all-embracing will." This is when I really got a sense that it was the author speaking from his heart, demonstrating the pain he suffered while in exile.