Verdict: BLACK WOLF provides an effective view of early manhood and the trials of growing up and facing lust and love, not necessarily in that order.
BLACK WOLF by Andrés Aloi is a tale of a young man named Vincent Wing, which begins with a prologue explaining that the story is an autobiography about him when he was in high school. He’s now twenty years old and wonders if anything truly has changed or changed him since then. It’s a coming of age tale of being a young man in high school who is horny and in love, and how the two desires don’t always go together. Much of the focus of the novel is on the relationships of Vincent with his ex-girlfriend, Clara; the new girl he desires, Maggie; along with his friendship with his close peers.
The novel is filled with the experiences of Vincent and his friends as they take a senior high school trip from their Catholic high school in Argentina to a resort in Brazil for one last blowout before they graduate; a sort of final bacchanal of drinking and (hopefully) sex before facing real life. Vincent and his friends, Hot Dog, Fifth, the Robot, Figs, Gulu, Chink, Colagen, Casper, and so forth, take the reader on an excursion of youth in all it crudities and failures. The novel is at times quite funny, as well as poignant, but does require a certain taste to truly enjoy. If one has problems with the F-word or the S-word, and casual references regarding female anatomy and sex then the novel will take a while in which to get accustomed. However, for many young men, discussions of sex and swearing in high school are as natural as hoping to sneak a peek at a girl’s panties when she bends over to tie her sneakers.
BLACK WOLF is an effective depiction of youth from a male point of view in all its natural, yet crude, splendor. And it is this aspect of the novel that at times may wear a little thin for some readers. It would have been nice if more time had been spent on getting to know Vincent’s friends in more ways than just the crudeness of their actions. However, the novel does an excellent job of depicting young men in their natural habitat, even if that may mean seeing them for what they are, boys trying to understand how to become men by pretending to be men through the use of crassness and false bravado.
BLACK WOLF is immediately reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, in which the story is told from the point of view of the rebel teen trying to find his place in the world. This storyline is easily relatable to any young man in high school who is about to leave the safe institution he’s been housed in for four years to soon face the real world of college, job responsibilities, marrying, or starting a family. Perhaps, as with Vincent, it might be a good idea for all young people to experience a final bacchanal blowout before leaving high school and facing the realities of life. As to the title, BLACK WOLF, it might be best understood when one reads about the white wolf encountered toward the end of the novel, which seems to help clarify Vincent’s conflict within himself.
BLACK WOLF provides an effective view of early manhood and the trials of growing up and facing lust and love, not necessarily in that order. Its use of humor and teenage angst is sure to relate.