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Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages…
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Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages (1980)

by Manuel Puig

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159275,058 (2.97)7

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From South America we here have another story of political upheaval, imprisonment, torture, and exile, the sad story told by Roberto Bolaño in his work, and by many so many others. Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages focuses less on the fact of exile than on the relationship of the elderly Mr. Ramirez, late of Argentina, and the man Larry hired to push his wheelchair around the NYC neighborhood where they live not far from each other, one in a nursing home, the other in a low-rent slummy apartment. All they know about each other is what they tell each other, and of course that's all we know about them, and the facts of their lives are thus quite unstable.

Without a narrator, characters have to say things people don't normally say, and awkward moments in Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages arise from reliance on dialogue, with a few documents at the end to wrap up the story. Another kind of awkwardness comes from the coincidence that the wheelchair-pusher has an advanced degree in history...but the English of Mr. Ramirez is also awkward, as is his very position in his own country and the US, and Larry's surely is also, so somehow all this awkwardness becomes a motif of the work, the difficulty of finding one's place in the world.

Four stars because it's a pleasure to read and understand, because the characters are affecting in their very different ways, and because it's intermittently funny in a quiet way. I have no memory of what Puig's Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, which I read decades ago, was about, but Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages has made me want to revisit it, and discover his other translated works.
  V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
Very interesting, but I didn't make it all the way through, quit at three quarters through. ( )
  Meerschaum | Aug 1, 2009 |
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