Another Literary book, another piece of crap. I just finished A Beautiful Young Woman, by Argentinian Julian Lopez. And I’m glad I’m done with it. Here’s the blurb from the publisher’s website…
As political violence escalates around them, a young boy and his single mother live together in an apartment in Buenos Aires — which has recently been taken over by Argentina’s military dictatorship. When the boy returns home one day to find his mother missing (or “disappeared”), the story fractures, and the reader encounters him fully grown, consumed by the burden of his loss, attempting to reconstruct the memory of his mother.
By leaping forward in time, the boy—now a man—subtly gives shape to his mother’s activism, and in the process recasts the memories from his childhood. The result is a stylistically masterful and deeply moving novel marking the English-language debut of one of Argentina’s most promising writers.
But the political violence isn’t even hinted at in the book, really. The mother takes some phone calls that she is increasingly unhappy with but that could be for totally personal reasons. And sometimes she disappears for a couple of hours without explanation, but that could be because she is a single mother who needs some adult company. Then the mother is killed but we are never told why. Political violence is never actually mentioned, as far as I know, even in passing. The father wasn’t in the story, but I took that as he had simply left for the usuals reason that men (and women) sometimes leave.
I started doing 205 Books so I could read some writers I wouldn’t normally read and hopefully find out some stuff about other countries and cultures in the process. And here’s a story set at a time when “political violence escalates around” there is remarkably little politics or violence mentioned.
And as for when the story “fractures”… There’s about 2 chapters after that which don’t really illuminate the past all that much. They just use an annoying repetition of an image to show us that the mother was the type of mother we already knew her to be– there was still no mention of politics. There was no activism subtly shaped. Like someone said in another review I read after I finished, there is more plot in the blurb than there is in the actual novel.
If I could throw my ebook back at the publisher I would.
So, I have decided I might try to look for some more genre fiction, though I’m not sure if Armenian sci-fi will be all that popular. I’ll let you know what I come up with.