So Long, Something Fierce

26 Oct So Long, Something Fierce

We gathered, we talked. We cozied up on Cindy’s couch. We sipped wine and sampled delicious food. Another great night at book club.

I arrive hungry. No dinner for me on LOL nights. The food and drink is always so delectable, I make a monster meal of the offerings and always indulge in a couple of glasses of wine, don’t mind if I do. Cindy W hosted a fantastic night in her utterly fabulous home. Adding to the interest, Cindy really raised the bar with a taped interview of author Carmen Aguirre (I still need to look up the spelling of her name every time I type it)  on Shaw Vancouver.  Watching Carmen talk, listening to her descriptions of that time in her life, seeing her laugh, certainly added a dimension of understanding of the book. She’s funny, honest, and charming. Her book is well-written and captivating.

Many of us commented that we learned a lot from reading this memoir. Our knowledge of the geography, climate, culture, and politics of South America has increased but our ability to see inside, to empathize with the vision of a revolutionary has been altered. In fact, what started out as a sort of anger and judgment of Carmen’s mother grew to an acceptance, even respect as we began to understand what drove her to risk her life–and the lives of her children–to bring change to her homeland, freedom for her people. Ultimately that passion was passed down to her daughter, when Carmen leaves home to become a revolutionary in her own right.

Descriptions of torture are kept to a minimum but are incredibly powerful contrasting with  Aguirre’s colourful coming of age, her characterization of the people who come in and out of her life, her weaving of words that bring  the food and drink and dance and on the streets to life. One can almost smell, taste, hear the sounds of various cultures, all united with the burning desire to be free of corruption.

The book captures interest from the first page and while it never wavers in the quality of its work, most of the LOL felt it dragged a little in the middle to about the 3/4 point. With so many countries, so many characters, so many revolutionaries and leaders and corrupt politicians, and policies, suspect neighbors and fleeting friends, it was sometimes hard to keep track of where Carmen was, which house she was staying in, which country she was in…and certainly I lost track of her meandering mother, who is so in and out of the picture. The book ends rather abruptly, too, and I can’t say it’s a particularly satisfying ending…but then again, this is a true story. And the ties that bind us are a tangled mess and simply can’t be neatly tied up. This is a complex story with a lot of history to absorb. But it’s an important one.

Do I recommend the book? Absolutely. The LOL gave it 3.75 Cheers!

Am I ready for some good old non-fiction fun? You bet! Stay tuned. I’m back on Monday to announce a new book.