Monday, September 23, 2019

Jaime Manrique's Like This Afternoon Together

I read Jaime Manrique's new movel Like This Afternoon Forever, a novel about homosexuality, the priesthood, and drug politics in Colombia. Descriptions of it refer to the issue of false positives, though in fact that's just one part of the narrative. Two Catholic priests, Ignacio and Lucas, meet as children, fall in love, and eventually end up in Bogotá together.

The book's style is very straightforward, which belies the complexities of what's occurring. There is of course the fact that two priests are a couple, though in fact that is not so uncommon. But there is also poverty that drives them to deep frustration, doubts about God, the challenge of AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, and Colombian politics. The government, the military, the police, the drug traffickers, and the paramilitaries are all complicit in the same game, all to the detriment of most Colombians.* That's the backdrop for the dramatic end of the novel. In and out itself, the prose is not so memorable but the story and images will stick with me.

*This is also a major theme about El Salvador in Sandra Benitez's excellent novel The Weight of All Things, where all sides in political conflict are bad for the ordinary person.


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