If a writer selfpublishes a novel, there is usually a reason: It’s a bad read.
The rule, of course, has exceptions. For example, you may be a writer living in Costa Rica, where finding a publisher, especially one for an English-language book, is about as easy as finding a luge instructor.
Such was the dilemma for Albert A. Correia, a Californian transplant to San José. Unable to find a buyer, Correia forked up his own cash and published “Even in Eden” himself.
The book is a delightful tale of greed, power, sex, drugs, betrayal, revenge, murder and goodness, all set against the backdrop of this beautiful, peaceful yet deceptively sweet country we have come to love.
The book tells the fictional story of Gerardo Granados, a recent medical school grad, and his father, Faustino, a nationally beloved physician. Their dream is to build a network of low- or no-cost clinics across the country.
They lack financing, however. That’s where José Sánchez, a powerful member of the Legislative Assembly, and his ambitious but corrupt son, Orlando, come into the picture.
Orlando – who holds a nasty grudge against Gerardo for a betrayal that dates back to their high school years – wants nothing to do with the Granados family. That is, until he realizes this could be the chance he has been waiting for to exact revenge.
Hence, the book’s title has a double entendre: “Even in Eden,” as in bad things happen even in nice places; and getting “Even in Eden.”
Like many a Costa Rican adventure, Correia’s tale begins in the Gran Hotel Costa Rica, where Gerardo is grabbing a quick cup of coffee.
At an adjacent table, unnoticed by Gerardo, are the Sánchezes, who are discussing Orlando’s political future. At another table we meet two sisters, the worldly Yessenia, just back from California, and Yenori, the innocent, whom Yessenia is trying to recruit into the get-richquick world of “Club Fun,” patterned not so loosely after one of San José’s better-known hooker hangouts.
As those stories unfold, taking us from the central Pacific party town of Jacó to the Caribbean port of Limón, a wide cast of characters enters the stage, including a sort of-good Gringo and a really evil Gringo, some good Ticos and some bad Ticos, some Colombians – most bad – and a narrator named the Grand Tico.
Yessenia, a sadomasochistic drug addict, eventually enters a sordid relationship with the bad Gringo but marries Gerardo, who later unwittingly becomes implicated in her lover’s mysterious overdose death.
The finale is satisfying, though less dramatic than anticipated by the buildup of the many overlapping stories.
Which is where the book drags. While Correia is an able storyteller and skilled at plot twists and character development, the volume of characters (Grand Tico included) and their chatter detract from the storylines.
The book also suffers from typo, spelling and grammatical errors – no fewer than 26 over one 100-page stretch. Many of them were brought on by the computer and language barriers between Correia, who speaks rudimentary Spanish, and his Costa Rican printing contractor, who speaks rudimentary English.
Still, the shortcomings in “Even in Eden” are nothing a good editor and publisher couldn’t overcome. They should give “Even in Eden” – or at least its sequel,which Correia has already started writing – a chance.
Where to Get ‘Even’
“Even in Eden,” written and published by Albert A. Correia, is available in San José at Libería Internacional and Libería Lehmann stores, Mora Books and 7th Street Books, and in Jacó at Books & Stuff. The suggested retail price is ¢6,900 (about $14).