Book Notes: Castellanos Moya’s Tirana memoria

This is the weakest book by Castellanos Moya that I have read. It’s a good novel, don’t get me wrong, but Castellanos Moya is writing about the 1940s in El Salvador, and the rage that fills his other novels and makes them so amazing is not there.

I understand why he wrote Tirana memoria. Castellanos Moya is obsessed with the Civil War and its aftermath, and he wanted to go back to the origins and see what created the horror the country is right now. But it’s impossible to be incandescent with anger over a quaint old dictatorship of the 1940s when so much worse shit happened since then. So the novel is much more peaceful in tone, its humor is kinder, the plot is sweeter, and the characters might be pathetic at times but they are not monstrous.

What I like is how hard Castellanos Moya is working on trying to figure out what went wrong and led the country to the horrible situation of today. He isn’t seduced by the simplistic, childish sloganeering of “the US did it!” or “it’s all because of colonialism / neocolonialism!” He’s a profound guy and there are no easy answers in his books.

I’m starting the next novel immediately, and I already know it’s going to be great because the blurb sounds very intriguing.

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