domingo, 18 de enero de 2015

El Matadero - Esteban Echeverría


I remember my reaction. This book was an assignment. I had to read it for my literature class. So, my only motivation for finishing this book was the test. There was going to be a test. I repeated to myself: “I HAVE TO FINISH IT. Finish. FINISH the damn thing. Open your eyes, you can do it. Forget naps, forget actually enjoying reading a book and finish this one”. (I was a bit competitive at school).

El mataderoSo, I managed to read the whole thing. And did well on my exam. AND I made a promise: never force myself to read a book I dislike. I mean, I can try it out, put my prejudices aside and see what is all the hype about, BUT if I don’t enjoy those few chapters, I won’t push myself to finish it. I don’t care being call a quitter (?) Reading should be having an amazing time with a book, and I read for myself, not to please anybody… So why would I make that feeling of actually physical and mental pain last? Unless it’s an assignment, I will not do it.

Well, I should say something about the book, right? It is considered one of the first (if not the first) Argentinian tales. It is about, mostly, a day in a slaughterhouse of Buenos Aires, in the context of a flood that causes economic problems. Echeverría’s story symbolizes the political atmosphere of the early 19th century, during Rosas’ dictatorship. So, there is a lot of issues that I usually find interesting: political power and social discrimination, fighting the system with new ideas, basically injustice and new ways of overcoming it, an excessively controlling government that causes differences among the citizens and, often, violent reactions (ringing any bells?), a political figure with a demagogic speech (bells, bells), a kind of silent opposition (BELLS) that must disappear completely, the loss of individuality, etc. It’s all there. So why did I find it so tedious? Maybe because I wasn't used to that writing style. And the long, too long descriptions about everything.

Two stars for now; I have to re-read it just to be certain. But I don't see that happening any time soon. 

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