The Shape of the Ruins

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Read 18/05/2019-29/05/2019

Rating 5 stars

The Shape of the Ruins is the story of the writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez and his involvement with two men who are obsessed by the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. Gaitán is real. Vásquez is real. I don’t know whether Carlos Carballo or Dr Francisco Benavides, the man who introduces Vásquez to Carballo, are real. It’s a novel about truth and the multiple truths of history. It’s a novel about how politically charged events can have decades of reverberation, affecting the lives of those who are unaware of the origin moment. It’s a novel of connections obscured by the twists and turns in their paths. Ultimately, it’s a novel about power and its influence over truth. Continue reading

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Fever Dream

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Read 04/04/2019

Rating 5 stars

Fever Dream is a short, brilliant book. It’s hard to review without giving things away, but suffice to say that Samanta Schweblin has delivered a masterpiece in suspense writing and translator Megan McDowell has done a cracking job of putting the Spanish into English.
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The Savage Detectives

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Read 26/12/2016-02/01/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge

I did some reading up on The Savage Detectives. It’s partly a fictionalised account of Roberto Bolaño’s return to Mexico in 1974 and his attempt to set up, with a friend and fellow poet Mario Santiago, a group of renegade poets-cum-practical jokers whose purpose in life is to disrupt the cultural status quo through heckling at poetry readings and to bring about political revolution with poetry as the great liberator.

It’s also partly a quest, a road trip in search of a mysterious disappeared poet. Throughout the book, the savage detectives of the title are neither fully present nor fully absent. They are present in conversations, and present in people hoping for their return, and are absent even when they make a physical appearance. We never hear directly from them. We only hear other people’s impressions of them. Continue reading