This is one of my favorite books of all time. It is a testiment to hope. The main character decides to keep the "disappeareds" alive by creating stories about them, even as the goverment snatches more and more people-- they never know why. It is a beautiful beautiful book, really well written. Even though it is a little dark, it also shows the way out of dispair. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I am not swapping mine, I am keeping it.
I don't know where I heard about this book, but I highly recommend it!At just over 200 pages, it's one you could squeeze in before your next book - THAT'S how much I'm recommending this one.
The novel takes place during the 1970s-80s in Argentina, during the time known as The Dirty War. I'd heard bits and pieces about this time in Argentinian history but this was my first real exposure to it.
I was completely drawn into this book; the writing itself, the characters, the history, the awful truth of what was done to these people - all of it was fascinating. I couldn't put it down. Here are some of the images/ideas that really struck me:
* Carlos explains why he loves walking in the rain - he says that the small cone of dry space under his umbrella is HIS space, controlled only by him - the generals who are controlling the rest of the city have no influence in that small space - he feels independent there, and imagines thousands of these little cones across the city coming together until one day they burst and freedom spreads everywhere - "Unless the generals chose to assign a cop everyone walking in the wet streets of Buenos Aires they could not contain this simple but eloquent reminder of freedom." (p102)
* The importance of names in one's memory really touched me. When speaking of the disappeared, Carlos says: "Names tell us about life and the memory of that life. But in Argentina names are not like they are elsewhere. Here, now, they are as easily erased as markings on tissue paper. Now the page of Argentina is clean of names that belong there, that have a right to be there." (p121)
This is my first real foray into the Magical Realism genre and I must say that I'm impressed. I had to believe that Carlos truly had this ability, but the way the story is written makes that an easy step. It didn't seem fantastical at all.
One of the quotes on the back cover describes this book as "a harrowing, brilliant novel". An online review at Amazon says it "should be required reading for anyone who calls him or herself a responsible citizen". I agree with both of these statements wholeheartedly; this is a book that will stay with me for a very long time.
It provides interesting insight into a time period in Argentina's history.
bought for a class but then didn't read - bought used from someone on Amazon.com - came from them with the front and back covers a bit creased....besides the cover issues the book is in perfect reading condition