20 ago. 2011

Plata quemada / the novel

This award-winning true-crime novel by Ricardo Piglia was made into a movie, and I made the mistake of seeing the movie first. I would have rather approached the novel with fewer expectations. The movie, for example, develops the relationship between the two main characters more deeply than the novel does, and introduces a more elaborate love triangle. Piglia often lapses into a pretentious journalistic style, quoting or parodying press accounts of the real events. This is meant to be ironic, I suppose, but it often became wearying. Piglia switches back and forth between this language and the argot of the criminals. Finally, the concluding battle between the police and the "pistoleros" takes up a large portion of the novel, disproportionately to the rest of it. In short, I liked the movie a bit more than the book. Now I will have to read other works by RP to see whether this is better, worse, or simply typical of him. Vance tried the English translation and didn't like it much. I have mixed feelings about the original. Obviously, it was a lot of work to synthesize all the original documentary material and make it into a coherent narrative, and parts of it are brilliantly re-created.

It was humbling to realize I don't understand Argentine slang very well. "Mexicanear" apparently means to betray a comrade in crime, "canas" are the police, etc... I got some good idioms for my class out of this novel, which was a plus.

(Thanks to the author of the Spanish Teaching Issues blog for the recommendation of both film and novel. I am also watching "Sólo con tu pareja" on her recommendation.)