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Voices of Time: A Life in Stories by Eduardo…

Voices of Time: A Life in Stories

by Eduardo Galeano

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The feet of time walk in our shoes; green alga dance; the rivers break all the rules; the flow of history on a planetary scale; the flow of events and happenings from country to country, city to city, town to town, person to person, animal to animal and plant to plant. Three hundred-thirty-three, that's 333, one-pager mini-stories with laser-sharp observations from Eduardo Galeano, among the foremost masters of Latin American literature. Here are several of my favorites:

It is said that once upon a time two friends were admiring a painting. The work of art, by who knows who, was from China, a field of flowers at harvest time.
One of the friends, who knows why?, fixed his gaze on a figure in the painting, one of many women with baskets gathering poppies. She wore her hair loose, flowing over her shoulders.
At last she returned his gaze, let her basket fall, held out her arms, and, who knows how, carried him off.
He let himself be taken, who knows where, and with that woman he spent nights and days, who knows how many, until a gust of wind picked him up and returned him to the room where his friend remained standing before the painting.
So brief was that eternity that the friend had not noticed his absence. And neither had he noticed that woman, one of many women in the painting gathering poppies in their baskets, now wore her hair tied at the back of her neck.

At dawn Doña Tota walked into a hospital in the barrio of Lanus. She was carrying a child in her belly. In the entranceway she found a star, in the form of a brooch, lying on the floor.
The star sparkled on one side, but not the other. That happens whenever stars fall to earth and lay in the dirt. On one side they glow silver, invoking the nights of the world; on the other side, they’re just tin.
Gripped in her fist, that star of silver and tin accompanied Doña Tota in labor.
The newborn was named Diego Armando Maradona.

In Chicago everybody’s black. In New York, the midwinter sun bakes stones till they melt. In Brooklyn, anyone who reaches the age of thirty deserves a statue. The finest homes in Miami are built of trash. Hollywood is run by the rats.
Chicago, New York, Brooklyn, Miami, and Hollywood – these are the names of some of the barrios of Cité Solei, the most abject slum in the capital of Haiti.

The entertainment industry thrives on the loneliness market.
The consoling industry thrives on the anguish market.
The security industry thrives on the fear market.
The lying industry thrives on the stupidity market.
How do they gauge their success? On the stock market.
The arms industry too. Their stock prices are the best news in every war.

He swore he would fly. He swore on all the buttonholes he’d ever opened and all the buttons he’d ever placed and all the suits and dresses and coats he’d ever measured, cut, basted, and sewn, stitch by stitch, day after day his entire life.
From then on, Reichelt the tailor spent his time sewing a pair of enormous bat wings. The wings folded so they’d fit in the grotty hold where he worked and lived.
At long last, after a huge effort, the elaborate cloth-covered framework of pipes and metal rods were ready.
The tailor spent the night unable to sleep, praying to God to give him a windy day. And in the morning, a gusty morning in the year 1912, he climbed to the tip of the Eiffel Tower, spread his wings, and flew to his death.
(I saw a newsreel of this event back when I was 12 – this man standing with his wings spread and then a jump, quickly plummeting to the ground. I never will forget.)

Jeronimo, Jose Saramago’s grandfather, didn’t know how to read or write, but he knew a great deal and what he knew he kept to himself.
When he fell ill, he knew that his time had come. He walked silently through his orchard, stopping beside each tree, and one by one he hugged them. He embraced the fig tree, the laurel, the pomegranate, and the three or four olive trees.
On the road a car waited.
The car took him to Lisbon, to his death.

When Wagner Adoum drove his car, he always kept his eyes on the road ahead, without so much as a glance at the billboards, yelling orders from the edges of Quito streets and highways.
“I never killed anyone,” he said. “And if I’ve reached the age I have, it’s because I pay no attention to those billboards.”
Thanks to his restraint, he explained, he managed to avoid dying from drowning, indigestion, hemorrhage, or suffocation. He didn’t drink an ocean of Coca-Cola, or eat a mountain of hamburgers. Nor did he dig a crater in his belly by swallowing a million aspirins. And he kept credit cards from sinking him up to his ears in a swamp of debt.

And not only do we have Eduardo Galeano’s words of time, but the pages are peppered with small black-and-white images of timeless Peruvian art. Fantástico. This book reminds me that being alive is an unending celebration. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
A fantastic book of short stories and poems that oddly enough balance and go really well with one another. Refreshing at times, funny, and a little sad. This collection is wonderful and very entertaining. From High school on this is a great go-to! ( )
  gracelovera | Nov 17, 2015 |
The form of the book is exceptional: 338 tiny stories, few longer than a page. But the resulting mosaic is utterly wonderful, and as soon as I finished the last I immediately started over again. ( )
1 vote grunin | Aug 8, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805077677, Hardcover)

A striking mosaic of memories, observations, and legends that together reveal the author's own story and a grand, compassionate vision of life itself

In this kaleidoscope of reflections, renowned South American author Eduardo Galeano ranges widely, from childhood to love, music, plants, fear, indignity, and indignation. In the signal style of his bestselling and much-admired Memory of Fire trilogy--brief fragments that build steadily into an organic whole--Galeano offers a rich, wry history of his life and times that is both calmly philosophical and fiercely political.

Beginning with blue algae, the earliest of life forms, these 333 vignettes alight on the Galeano family's immigration to Uruguay in the early twentieth century, the fate of love letters intercepted by a military dictatorship, abuses by the rich and powerful, the latest military outrages, and the author's own encounters with all manner of living matter, including generals, bums, dissidents, soccer stars, ducks, and trees. Out of these meditations emerges neither anger nor bitterness, but a celebration of a blessed life in a harsh world.

Poetic and passionate, scathing and lyrical, delivered with Galeano's inimitable mix of gentle comedy and fierce moral judgment, Voices of Time is a deeply personal statement from a great and beloved writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:00 -0400)

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