Winter Quarters by Osvaldo Soriano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Quarters by Osvaldo Soriano

Argentinian fiction

Original title –  Cuarteles de invierno

Translator – Nick caistor

Source – Personal copy

Another Latin American novel for Spanish lit month.This time I revisit a writer from the past , Osvaldo Soriano. He died in 1997. He started his writing life as a journalist. But as he was considered left wing. There was a period of six months where he had none of his articles being published. So he wrote a novel about Stan Laurel with Philip Marlow as character. He later placed this book at Laurel’s grave. This was his third novel and his second book to be translated into English, his book dirty  A funny Little war was the first which I reviewed here   . This is a follow on to that book set in the same small village in A funny dirty little war.

The two men waiting on the platform looked bored. The one who seemed to be the station master wore a shiny black suit. A cigarette dangled from his lips. The other , a fatmman in blue overalls was waving qa dim lantern in the direction of the train driver. I picked up my case and started down the aisle .The compartment was almost empty ; the other passengers were sprawled out asleep .I jumped down onto the platform and looked around .

The opening and a low key greeting for Andres Galvan arrivial in Colonia Vela

This book follows two characters that have washed up in the small village of  Colonia Vela three years after the original book. Rocha a down on his heels boxer, but to coin the old boxing phrase, he was a contender at one point having won a big fight earlier in his career. He has been brought here as an opponent. To fight the up and coming local champion who also happens to be the Army’s champion. Rocha meets Anders Galvin a clever but also like Rocha that has also seen his best day he is a Tango singer. Both are there for the same event.We see the boxer fall for the Mayor’s daughter as they are there to be the losers on the night and there are no two ways about that. A tale of two losers drawn together in a small town.

“Come nd visit ,” Rocha said to me .”If you decide to stay and want to see me before the fight, I’ve already forgiven you fior what you said, so ..”

“Thanks ” I replied. “I’ll come and see you tomorrow. And take care, they reckon the local kid is hot stuff..”

He straightrened my tie with his good hand “I’ll dump him in the third” He took out a large banknote and stuck it into my top pocket with a flourish.”Pay for the room and let me have the change later”

The two meet and Rocha doesn’t see the full picture  of the fight !

Now I read up about Soriano life for the first part and discovered he was a fan of Philip Marlowe,  so much that he was a character in his first novel. This is a homage to those sort of streets that Chandler wrote about in his books. Rocha and Anders are, like Marlowe more complex characters than they appear, Rocha, the boxer is not the cleverest person but wants to fall in love and settle down and escape the past in a way.Andres is the clever one her a tango singer that wants to a help his friend ending up as a pulp due to the fight. This is a classic buddy story but also set to the backdrop and politics of the country at the time. When the country was run by the military, this was also just after the defeat in the Falklands

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