Friday, August 07, 2015

Carlos Gamerro's An Open Secret

I read Carlos Gamerro's novel An Open Secret. It is the story of a man who returns to the small Argentine town where he spent summers a child, and now as an adult he investigates the Dirty War murder of a man. Using a cover story of writing about the case, he starts talking to people. Gradually he unravels the ways in which the town was really collectively responsible and how personal vendettas came together with the Dirty War. There is also a major plot twist that I won't spoil.

I found it a slow read and the long, bouncing, slangy paragraphs of dialogue can be tough to follow, as are the many characters (this must've been a really difficult book to translate). The novel has a powerful message, but I found it a bit blunted by the style. Reading over reviews after I finished the book, I am left with the impression that plenty of others didn't get the same impression so it may well just be a matter of taste.

Part of that message is how even now people harbor countless secrets about what happened during dictatorships, in Argentina and elsewhere. For many reasons, including self-preservation, they're careful about what they say and to whom. There are a lot of answers out there about the disappeared but they're hard to find.


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