Friday, March 16, 2007

Mempo Giardinelli: Sultry Moon

It had been my intention to talk about this great novella for a while, and since there has been a flurry of interesting observations about more famous Latin american writers, I thought I should discuss this novel here.
Mempo Giardinelli is an Argentinian novelist. His opinions are well respected. But, my interest is in his sultry moon.
sultry moon is written at a break-neck speed. It is an opiate dream. It disconcerts, it hurts, it amazes. Seemingly written like a thriller, it is not a thriller. The events unfold at such a speed, with such fantastic vigour that one has to finish the novella in one reading. That the language is terse, tense, poetic and so economical is a lesson to the accumulating wastes of other fiction everywhere.
Normally, one sympathizes with the protoganist or hates him or her. But not here. The feeling after reading the book is a kind of unsettling confusion, a psychotic daze. The main actor, Ramiro Bernandez commits a crime. Then he is on the run.
The title, quite brazenly, suggests that the moon was perhaps responsible for his act. Yet, in a more mesmerizing manner, Giardinelli does not reveal his sympathies. If there are allegories or metaphors here, they are obvious. The events unfold against the backdrop of the military junta ruling Argentina in the eighties.
However, the writer does not suggest the innocence of Ramirez or the brutality of the Police as obvious elements in such times. The most obvious lesson is that anyone can commit an atrocity, not just monsters. Battles of conscience, morality, love, lust, moon's heat or pure aggression, you have it here.
Thriller as an allegory, detective genre as a technique of subduing words, yes, this book succeeds, it wins. This novel is not what it seems it is. It glitters, it shines, it lights up desolations at night. For those unfamiliar with Giardinelli, what better baptism, what better fires?

I must end by quoting this passage, one of the many gems in this book.
Hell, on top of it all to become melancholy at this stage of the game, forever, into an outlaw, Who would have thought it? But why should he think any more. The heat was to blame, that heat that enhanced the possibilities of death. It imparts variety to its forms. The heat, it seems, searches inside of you without your realizing it. But it causes death, that old thing that is always renewed like the great rivers.
He sat on the bed and took a gulp of the coke they had......................


Alok said...

this sounds very interesting. will note it down.

and the title of the book is fantastic too. i love this metaphor of moon and madness (lunar and lunacy etc). I wonder how this myth arose in the first place. more people getting mad on full moon nights? a lot of literary possibilities there :)

also love the word "moon" when used as a verb.

Kubla Khan said...

alok: moon and madness, yes, perhaps the moon, considered barren, brought mad delusions. lunar incantations, eliot writes.
in more popular reference, Pink Floyd sang the dark side of the moon.'There is no dark side in the moon really, matter of fact, it is all dark'
then moon as bitter, bitter because it is cursed, has no light.Roman Polanski take on it.
sultry....because it flares passion, leads to destruction. a woman. in politically incorrect times, women as inferior sex, thus like moon, beautiful but not sunny, causing mayhem, leading men to passionate crimes.
all the crimes are blamed on the moon, thus, man absolved of blame.
what do you think?

* said...

yes i agree,intersting, never heard of him before. Will add him to the evergrowing list of intriguing books to read....

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