Book Notes: Claudia Piñeiro’s Una suerte pequeña

The first book I read this year was almost good. The story had a lot of potential but the author’s technical skills were insufficient to make it work. As a result, at least half of the novel is pretty much unreadable.

Here’s what happened. Marilé, the protagonist of the novel, is one of those perennially infantile women who are always looking for a man to rescue them. When she accidentally causes the death of a child, however, nobody can save her from the fallout. Even though she didn’t mean for the little boy to die, the kid’s parents and their friends can’t just get over the fact that Marilé caused his death. The community where she lives begins to shun her, and Marilé doesn’t have the maturity to deal with that.

“But this is unfair!” she exclaims. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Grow up,” her husband tells her.

But Marilé is incapable of that. Instead, she abandons her husband and her 6-year-old son and runs away to be rescued by a wealthy American. When the wealthy American dies 20 years later, she goes back to look for the now grown son to be her savior du jour.

This could be a great story but it ultimately doesn’t work because the author decided to tell it from the perspective of Marilé who is so vapid and shallow that the narrative soon becomes excruciatingly boring. Piñeiro tries to create sympathy for Marilé but that contradicts the logic of the story. The struggle between the author’s intention and the direction where the story leads blocks the story from moving in any direction. As I said, it’s a failure of the writer’s skill that prevents this book from being any good, and that’s unfortunate. How people deal with the inevitable and unfair bad shit happening to them is a fascinating topic but this novel didn’t manage to give the readers anything other than the obvious conclusion that infantile people don’t manage to deal with it at all.

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