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Purgatory (2009)

by Tomás Eloy Martínez

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11725104,032 (3.77)23
  1. 00
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (philosojerk)
    philosojerk: I found Martinez's style in Purgatory very reminiscent of Marquez's in One Hundred Years. If you enjoyed one of them, you would probably enjoy the other.
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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
A good story that deals with questions of what is reality. However, if feels like the translation is lacking - too many awkward or stilted passages (perhaps suffered because the author was not alive to consult). Nevertheless, a recommended read. ( )
  Osbaldistone | Feb 25, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This fronts like an upmarket version of Ghost starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, and certainly each of us remembers when we lost the love of our life and everything stopped making sense and we went off the rails and never quite made it back. Aside from or alongside the pugatory of the title, this book's metaphor of choice for that wandering unto death is maps--I think of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' song of that title, with its very similar feel; and all in all this book does truly prime you to feel a great heaviness behind your eyes and crumple with longing. Our sundered lovers here are cartographers, the kind of metaphor that works because it's so heavyhanded. But then, in practice, the lost-and-found romance kind of founders and pales and stales, and if that was the point then respect to the author for pulling it off, and if, as I suspect, what it means is tht no matter what kind of map to happiness you think you've got hidden under the bed in your palace bedroom in your grey kingdom, it's not gonna get you where you're going. There are some cool bits where it's not just Emilia wondering how her Simon can come back to her and not have aged a day, but the reader wondering if Emilia knows, if it's just us that aren't in on it. But that metaweirdness fizzles, and Purgatory wins at a crawl. And that's fine and probably real, but not fun to read about.

Yeah, the Purrrrg. The grey kingdom. This book is set in Argentina during the dictatorship, with a full complement of atrocities, and I think that's ultimately the point, and the love thing just a husk. The best moments in this book were when the protagonist Emilia's father, a kind of scenery-chewing Eichmann for the junta, came out and did his thing; the one scene I think I won't forget is his meeting with Orson Welles, who says "Call me Orsten" and drips contempt and makes you want to know if he was that utterly impressive in real life. But Dupuy, the evil dad, gets some moments of his own. But the broken mess he makes of his daughter makes it hard to enjoy the campier reaches of his villainy, and I'm not sure if I got much insight into said mess in the end beyond that dictatorship ruins people and they don't un-ruin. Certainly, the parts where the author showed up to reminisce about where he was in '78 seemed sterile; that's too harsh a word for the book as a whole, maybe, but what about … discouraged. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Dec 10, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is Argentinian journalist and novelist Tomás Eloy Martínez's final novel -- a work exploring memory, being, longing, waiting, and 20th century Argentinan history in a format that is so much more interesting than that sounds. Beautifully written and translated, this is novel is full of meandering truths in the tradition of the best Latin American fiction.

[full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2012/11/purgatory-by-tomas-eloy-martinez-2011.html ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Oct 28, 2012 |
3.5 stars.This second book is about Luc Sloane (bass player for Heaven Sent) and Reese Schuyler. Reese and his twin sister Reegan are part of the original Heaven Sent fanbase and were friends with the band when they first started. After Reese comes on to Luc in a moment of "weakness" Luc pushes him away in disgust (he's not gay). The story picks up some 6 years later (after Luc has discovered that men are fun too) and Reese has "de-gayed" his life. He's teaching in a very respectable, conservative (stuck-up) school and leads a very straight life (in all senses of the word). Luc wants a chance to finish what Reese started 6 years earlier. This book is another enjoyable episode of the series but I didn't like Luc's methods of forcing change on Reese - the whole "I know what's best for you" and "you'll thank me for this later" (even if it happens, by serendipity to turn out to be true) generally doesn't work very well for me. That aside, the rest was very good. ( )
  Kaetrin | Aug 13, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Purgatory is the first novel of Tomás Eloy Martínez to be translated into English since his death in 2010. He is best know for his acclaimed books The Peron Novel, Santa Evita, and The Tango Singer. It is translated from the Spanish by award winning translator Frank Wynne.

This was my first novel by Eloy Martínez, so I had nothing but his reputation to go on but I am always willing to try new authors from Latin America. This one did not let me down. It’s a hauntingly melancholy novel about a woman whose husband disappeared thirty years ago along with thousands of others during Argentina’s military dictatorship. She spends the intervening time searching for him as she hears rumors that he has been seen in various places. What makes the book so poignant is that her own father is a high ranking official in the dictatorship and is almost certainly complicit in his son-in-law’s fate and certainly in that of many of his compatriots. Eloy Martínez really does a great job of portraying how a people can put their blinders on and ignore that what they are doing really does not (and cannot) justify the end. As the novel jumps back and forth between the past and the present, you see the toll that this takes on the family and the country.

When Emilia finally sees her husband Símon in a restaurant, he has not aged a bit from the day he disappeared while she, of course, is 30 years older. As the novel winds on, Emilia withdraws into her “life” with Símon. Is it reality or is it all in her mind? You decide…but you should read this book.

I’ll leave you with my favorite passage from the book:

“I thought about all the things that disappear without our even noticing, because we know only what exists, we know nothing of those things that never come into existence; I thought about the non-being I would have been had my parents conceived me seconds earlier or later. I thought of the libraries of books never written (Borges tried to make up for this absence in ‘The Library of Babel’), but all that remained was the idea, there was no flesh, no bones, a magnificent lifeless idea. I thought about the Mozart symphonies silenced by his untimely death, about the song running through John Lennon’s mind that December night when he was murdered. If we could recover the unwritten books, the lost music, if we could set out in search of what never existed and find it, then we should have conquered death.”

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviews (sorry it wasn't really "early") ( )
1 vote jveezer | Jun 24, 2012 |
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...what is fleeting remains, it endures.

  FRANCISCO DE QUEVEDO
 'To Rome Buried in Her Ruins'
Dedication
In memoriam Susan Rotker, ten years after.
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Símon Cardosa had been dead thirty years when his wife, Emilia Dupuy, spotted him at lunchtime in the lounge bar in Trudy Tuesday.
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Simón Cardoso had been dead for thirty years when Emilia Dupuy, his wife, found him at lunchtime in the dining room of Trudy Tuesday. So begins Purgatory, the final and perhaps most personal work of the great Latin American novelist Tomás Eloy Martínez. Emilia Dupuy's husband vanished in the 1970s, while the two were mapping an Argentine country road. All evidence seemed to confirm that he was among the thousands disappeared by the military regime. Yet Emilia never stopped believing that the disappeared man would reappear. And then he does, in New Jersey. And for Simón, no time at all has passed. In Martínez's hands, this love story and ghost story becomes a masterful allegory for history political and personal, and for a country's inability to integrate its past with its present
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Simn Cardoso had been dead for thirty years when Emilia Dupuy, his wife, found him at lunchtime in the dining room of Trudy Tuesday. So begins Purgatory, the final and perhaps most personal work of the great Latin American novelist Toms Eloy Martnez.

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