I thoroughly enjoyed Claudia Piñeiro’s tale of Argentinian affluence gone awry so I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading her second book. Perhaps my subconscious somehow knew that it wouldn’t, for me, be the same kind of reading experience.
It is a deliciously short book which once again takes us into the world of the wealthier inhabitants of Buenos Aries. It is told mostly from the point of view of Inés whose persona is derived from her status as the long-term wife of a successful businessman. When her marriage, and by extension her entire life, looks to be under threat from Ernesto’s behaviour she becomes a woman of action: attempting to put to rights what has gone wrong in her world in a most unconventional way.
My friend Maxine described this as book as a “perfectly pitched black comedy” and it saddens me anew that she is no longer with us and I won’t be able to discuss my very different reaction to the book. I did enjoy sharing thoughts about the books we both loved with Maxine but I also enjoyed those times when we disagreed: intelligent debate without a hint of aggression or derision on either side is not that easy to find these days.
Though I could see some humour in Inés’ logical but flawed thinking I didn’t really find ALL YOURS terribly funny. I’m much more inclined to agree with another crime reading buddy’s assessment of this as book as much less perceptive and thought-provoking than its predecessor. I admit that all three of the characters – Inés, Ernesto and their teenage daughter Lali whose own trauma is relayed via short chapters of dialogue – are beautifully crafted which is a credit to the author given how little of them there actually is in this novella length story. But their level of narcissism and shallowness did not make them the kind of people I want to spend time with.
The structure of the book is interesting and mostly successful though I’m not convinced of the need for the few chapters which purported to be extracts from forensic texts discovered in Inés’ custody. But the narration by Inés, displaying her increasingly bizarre thought processes and behaviour is well done and the chapters of dialogue that Lali has with her best friend and others manage to say a lot with very few words.
I’m now at the end of the review and realise I’ve described more good things than bad about the book yet still I feel as if I didn’t really like it. At least not as much as I expected I would. Perhaps in the end I’ve not been able to separate my intense dislike for the two main characters and their shallow existence from my feelings about the book as a whole. Which is a little troubling because I often claim not to need to like characters in order to like a book.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Translator Miranda France
Publisher Bitter Lemon Press [this translation 2011, original edition 2006]
Length 172 pages
Book Series standalone
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