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Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton

Imagining Argentina (original 1987; edition 1991)

by Lawrence Thornton

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317452,942 (3.79)12
Title:Imagining Argentina
Authors:Lawrence Thornton
Info:Bantam (1991), Paperback, 240 pages
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Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton (1987)



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This novel set during the 70s junta in Argentina (and its kidnappings, tortures, rapes and killings) is gritty, imaginative, dark and hopeful - all at the same time. What happens when citizens respond to a military junta with imagination and storytelling (which may even be prophetic and creating a new reality)? How does that impact the way that people choose to believe and to fight the terror they live with?

A fascinating look at imagination, memory, story. And birds. I started highlighting those themes as I read the book.

(recommeded by Matthew Rock) ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
In Argentina, during the brutal military rule known as The Dirty War, thousands of students, scholars and unionists simply "disappear" and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo begin their marches to bring attention to the regime's policies of terror, kidnapping, and murder. Carlos Rueda, a playwright for a children's theater in Buenos Aires, is married to Cecelia, an outspoken editor at a large newspaper. They have a teenage daughter. One day Cecelia is kidnapped from their home by the regime, and in his grief Carlos joins the Mothers in marching. Hearing their stories, he begins to have visions of the fates of their loved ones. Sometimes all he can report are details of pain and death; other times he is able to predict returns which come true, to the wonderment of the crowds that flock to his home each Thursday evening, hoping he can help. But Cecelia, the one "disappeared" he wants so badly to find, appears to him only in bits and pieces as the months stretch into years.

This is the third time I've read this book, and it is as magical, moving, and disturbing as when first published. Carlos' visions tell the story of Argentina's misery, of how young people and even children were kidnapped, mercilessly tortured and raped, and often killed. We see a previously-civilized country ruled by those who indulge themselves in the name of "order", and the fight put up by those willing to risk everything to imagine a different future for their country. In our current political climate, where thugs again proclaim the benefits of unfettered hate and violence against "others", the book is a vivid reminder of the trap waiting for any nation, even ours, when evil overcomes common sense and convinces the easily-lead that their worst tendencies can be justified. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Dec 10, 2017 |
this was a beautifully written and moving book about the power of words and imagination in the face of dire circumstances. i really enjoyed this one. ( )
  shannonkearns | Jan 8, 2011 |
Imagining Argentina is indeed a book replete with beautiful and illuminating metaphors. It accurately describes many of the events that are still not common enough knowledge from the most recent military dictatorship in Argentina. I thought most accurate was the depiction of the inhumanity of the generals, whose greatest hope was not a peaceful, just society, but an authoritarian realm where fear dominated the populous, where all dissonant viewpoints were silenced into an artificial and dreadful homogeneity. The book moved me to tears, yes, and captured Buenos Aires, yes, and brought the pain of Argentine mothers of disappeared children to an American audience.
Much of the book details the fates of detainees who were able to escape from the detention centers, able to resume lives after the dictatorship ended. This feels to me like an American imposition on the Argentine tragedy. In the many detention centers we toured while in the land of grass fed beef and tango, not once did anyone mention people who had escaped. I do not know if anyone actually managed to sneak past guards; I doubt it was a common occurrence if it happened at all. This hopeful view--of reunions and babies returned from prison--obscures the darker tragedies and unfortunate successes the militares had in obliterating most of the country's progressive leadership. ( )
  metamariposa | Oct 19, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553345796, Paperback)

Imagining Argentina is set in the dark days of the late 1970's, when thousands of Argentineans disappeared without a trace into the general's prison cells and torture chambers. When Carlos Ruweda's wife is suddenly taken from him, he discovers a magical gift: In waking dreams, he had clear visions of the fates of "the disappeared." But he cannot "imagine" what has happened to his own wife. Driven to near madness, his mind cannot be taken away: imagination, stories, and the mystical secrets of the human spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This is an extraordinary story of love, compassion and danger.

(summary from another edition)

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