Dead stars by Alvaro Bisama
Original title – Estrellas muertas
Translator -Megan McDowell
Source – Review copy
I said when I reviewed Zenith hotel that so far in 2014 I had read two stunning books ,well this is the second one .Alvaro Bisama Grew up around Villa Alemana .He studied Playa Ancha university before coming a columnist after university .He also started writing .He also got a master’s degree from university of Chile ,where he worked on the website Mariano Aguirre alongside Alejandro Zambra ,also with Zambra he was on Hay festival Bogotá 39 of the best 39 writers under 39 .he has published seven books including four novels .
We’d be down in the port ,at Hesperia ,cafe 8.30 .Talking about whatever .She’d be chain-smoking ,and I would shred the skin of my lips with my teeth .Those nervous habits were all we had left in those days .
Opening both sat at a cafe ,waiting when they read the paper .
Dead stars ,strangely enough starts of a bit like Marias The infatuations in a cafe ,it is the end of a relationship a couple is using the cafe every time they visit there lawyers to finalize the details of their divorce .Anyway one day they are sat there reading the paper when they discover an article mentioning Javiera a women they both knew when they were studying .Now in a rather Proustian moment we go back into the history to the early post -Pinochet years of the 90’s and this couple when they first meet at college discovering them selcves ,Chiles past and forging their own ways and Political views ,that at a later date will have a big impact on each of them .How there lives all intersect in a backdrop of Grunge ,pink music ,drink and drugs and drug addiction .They remember what happened along the way til the point their respective lives split .
She said it all comes back at once ,it all comes back so suddenly .The photo opens the door .My memory is the room .
The proustian moment of remembering where they both met and the story began .
Now I was thinking of something to compare this with and the way my mind works the first thing that struck me was a piece of art .the Simon starling piece Shed Boat Shed ,where he took shed and this was the couple at the start of the book ,then made the shed into a boat and that like this book is a journey into the past is a voyage of discovery .Then we get back to the present and like the rebuilt shed in the piece it isn’t quite the same .I feel that covers the book well it is about rediscovering ones self ,a collective past and also a country struggling with a violent past and the fallout due to that ,these quiet unknown years after pinochet when the shadows are still there but people don’t always see them ,not til they are sat looking back .It was also nice to be reminded of some of the music of the time and to discover some artist I didn’t know or remember .Bisama is one to watch and great on Ox and Pigeon the small electronic publisher to finally bring one of the brightest hopes of Latin American fiction to us in English .