Senselessness (New Directions Paperbook)

Senselessness (New Directions Paperbook)

author: Horacio Castellanos Moya

name: Steev

average rating: 4.00

book published: 2008

rating: 5

read at: 2010/02/08

date added: 2010/02/08

shelves: novels, own-it, politics

Moya is one of the great world contemporary novelists. This book is like candy with an iron fist wrapped around it, or something. What I mean by that is that it's very funny and entertaining in one sense, as we follow a narrator who is a somewhat cynical and sex-obsessed horndog writer from a nearby country who has taken a unique copy-editing job: he's working for the catholic church in Guatemala (the country is never named but I recognize names, like Rios Montt, the dictator who presided over some of the worst crimes against humanity during Guatemala's civil war) to look over their huge report on the massacres against the indigenous peoples during the recently ended civil war there. On his time off he's chasing tail, with mixed success, and drinking lots of beer. But gradually the job and the perceived risks of the job start to take over his whole conciousness. He can't help repeating over and over various disturbing sentences from the report, and at every turn he thinks people are following him or watching him or planning to assassinate him for his role in the project. He's a classic "unreliable narrator" and yet, is he? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Another interesting thing about this book is that it's written in really really long sentences, and yet with such skill and finesse that you don't really notice, until you want to set the book down and you have wait for a page or two before you come to a full-stop. This formal strategy matches the sort of feverish and frenetic mental state of the narrator perfectly.