Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: "The Revolutionaries Try Again" by Mauro Javier Cardenas

Roberto Bolano and Julio Cortozar (As well as Gabriel Garcia Marquez) are to Latin American writers what Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison are to black writers. For better or worse, any new book by someone who shares their ethnicity is bound to be compared to them even with a modicum of thematic similarities. While I have not read any Julio Cortozar, I am a huge Bolano fan, and the only similarities The Revolutionaries Try Again; the debut novel of Ecuadorian writer Mauro Javier Cardenas has with Bolano’s novel The Savage Detectives is it two central male characters and their shaky relationship. This is more of a modernist work of vibrant and intense innovation that left me a little breathless but undeniably impressed. It’s a tough read, not unlike the books by the authors mentioned, but one I found rewarding and thought provoking. It is quite the task to unpack such a novel, but I will do my best. While the back of the book says that there are three central characters, there are really only two. One, the person whose story takes up the most page space is Antonio, an ex-apt living in San Francisco who gets a call from his old school chum Leopoldo, a government worker still living in their hometown of Guayaquil. Leo has a plan to overthrow the government, which exists in a state of comfortable corruption and under the ghost and possible threat of violent revolution. It is hard to pin down what this books thematic heart is. Is it the futility of revolution? Is it about the finite passion for it that deprecates with age? Or is it about age itself, and the disappointments that invariably come with growing old? It’s probably somewhere in between, but this novel, with its acidic language and unconventional structure, which layers timelines, thoughts and feelings on top of each other, is sure to get your blood flowing.

Rating: 4/5

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