Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman

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Talking to ourselves by Andrés Neuman

Argentinian fiction

Original title – Hablar Solos

Translator – Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia

Source – Review Copy

Well I was so pleased to be sent Andrés second book to be translated into English as his first book Traveller of the century was one of my favourite books of 2012 .Andrés is one of the biggest stars of Spanish language fiction ,he has won a lot of the big prize from the Spanish-speaking world and was also on the IFFP last year .

The I start to sing , and my mouth gets bigger .It makes Dad laugh to see how happy I am .But Mum doesn’t laugh .

I’d been pestering them about it now for ages .Every summer .They always said the same thing .When you’re older .I hate it when they say that .I picture a long line of kids with me at the end .This time they argued ,not out loud .

I feel this captures the whole picture of what each is telling them selves in this novel .

Talking to ourselves is a novel made up of a trio of voices ,a family the father Mario is dying of cancer and want to take a road trip with his son Lito .Left behind trying to fathom out what is happening to her husband is Elena .Now Mario and Lito are on the road with Pedro their truck father and son ,Lito is so excited as he has want to see the places he has heard of over the years but til now he hasn’t be able to see that said his father wants this trip with Pedro to be his sons memory of him .Now at home the mother of the family is seeking solace in the arms of first book and then the doctor that has been treating her husband ,as she worries how it will all end .

I was going to say he drives me wild .But besides being cheesy that would be in accurate .It’s more like ,with Ezequiel as a pretext ,through his body ,I had allowed myself to go wild .His healthy young body ,Distant from death .

As I write this I Despise myself ,but sometimes Mario’s body disgusts me .Touching it is as difficult for me as it is for him to look in the mirror .

Elena struggles with her husband’s Illness

Now I described this book on twitter as a bit like the blind men describing an elephant proverb as the three narratives describe different thing ,like the proverb Lito story is a road trip with his dad ,he hasn’t noticed how ill his dad is .Mario journey is to make his young son remember him and Elena is to find solace .But like the proverb each is seeing something different in the present their own spin .At heart of this is how families deal with their tough times how often do we shield those nearest us from the truth ? How often like Elena in times of trouble do we seek Solace in the wrong places ? And like Lito as a kid how often do you miss or just not see the bigger picture ? I also said on twitter each narrative is the person holding a mirror to their soul ,rather like Borges each is finding their soul whether on the road or in the books they are reading ( There is a list of the books mention in the book at the back of the novel ) .I am a huge fan of Andrés  (I have met him and found him one of the warmest and approachable writers I have ever meet ) ,Did I want another Traveller of .. ,no I have always found the writers I love, are  like this book take different journeys on every book  they writer .It takes real courage to make every book different from the one before ,I feel this is what Bolano also saw in Andrés when he made his famous quote of the 21st century belonging to him and his blood brothers .Andrés has tackled cancer and dying in a family with out drifting into overly sentimental tones and given the family as a whole real voices of what real people would do in this situation .

Have you read any of his books yet ?

 

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jacquiwine
    Apr 01, 2014 @ 15:07:29

    I feel head over heels with ‘Traveller of Century’ – this is a very different book, but an excellent one nonetheless and it illustrates Neuman’s immense skill as writer. I love the way ‘Talking to Ourselves’ captures three different and very distinctive voices, each one adding different tones and emotions to the narrative. Almost like the literary equivalent of a collage (if that makes any sense). I found it very powerful and moving, especially Elena’s story.

    Reply

    • winstonsdad
      Apr 01, 2014 @ 15:41:47

      I loved Lito the wide eyes view of the world he caught each of the three so well and how they each cope with this and letting the others know what is happening

      Reply

  2. jacquiwine
    Apr 01, 2014 @ 16:02:27

    Yes, very much so, Stu. Lito’s voice, and the way his mind raced through a string of thoughts and questions, reminded me of my goddaughter’s two brothers – both similar in age to Lito.

    Reply

  3. Lisa Hill
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 09:37:02

    I loved Traveller of the Century too, this will have to go on my wishlist for later because I’ve just received my First 25 from Open Letter Books, but I will certainly catch up with this one in due course because he was one of my favourites from the IFFP too.

    Reply

  4. bythefirelight
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 01:29:37

    I liked it quite a bit. It had a lot of j humor in it. I’m glad it made it into English. He is such as wide ranging stylist. Hopefully some of his stories will make it into English one day.

    Reply

  5. Trackback: The notebook by Agota Kristof | Winstonsdad's Blog

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