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Thread: Eduardo Galeano: Voices of Time

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Uruguay Eduardo Galeano: Voices of Time

    Voices of Time: A Life in Stories is a compilation of ~330 vignettes, most delivered in one page and many in just a paragraph or two. As such, Voices is a colorful collection of fleeting, but not trivial, thoughts from Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano. It is, in turns, poetical, whimsical, political and reverential. The collection?s subject matter swings from war to art to history to death to religion to everyday living and everything above, below and in between.

    That is not to say there are no recurrent themes. Often Voices reads like a train of thought on a given subject; musings on an idea spill over pages like a Slinky stepping down stairs. Eduardo Galeanohas a way of not only stitching together one musing to the next, he also weaves fluidly from subject to subject. In one thread, for instance, Galeano spends a few pages on poverty and injustice before transitioning into medicine. The titles of these notes alone showcase this style: ?Poverty,? ?The Closed Door,? ?A Lesson in Law,? ?A Lesson in Medicine,? and continuing.

    As another example: ?Incantations? begins a run of thirteen vignettes with religious overtones. ?The Little Christ? and ?The Great Beyond? are slotted here. His musings on religion are then, fittingly, taken over by a series on fear (?Fright,? ?Bogeyman,? ?Red Alert,? and so on).

    The concept of Voices of Time is appealing. Immediately I cannot recall a similarly themed book. Czeslaw Milosz?s Milosz?s ABCs comes to mind, but his is strictly autobiographical, the vignettes being in alphabetical order rather than grouped together by topic. Milosz?s Roadside Dog might come closer to matching Galeano?s style, but Roadside is forthrightly a collection of prose. Jack Kerouac?s Book of Sketches is similar in style (sketches being his term for passing thoughts), but it certainly does not carry the same weight as Galeano?s collection. (I recognize it may be a bit unfair to compare the works of these three authors!)

    Because Voices of Time combines story telling, autobiographical recollections, subtle political vitriol and reflections on art, science, sport (and so much more), it defies simple categorization. Moreover, his method of tackling particular subject matter (e.g. political turmoil), while largely residing in the Latin American world, has transcendent qualities missing from similarly themed works.

    originally published here: Quick Review: Voices of Time by Eduardo Galeano | The Mantle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    NYC, USA

    Uruguay Re: Eduardo Galeano: Voices of Time

    Just finished his Children of the Days (2011) and I'm not impressed. 365 historical vignettes (seems to be his signature style?) pulled out of the dusty vaults of human memory: it reads like an unending river of misery, nothing but pillage and rape with a few occasional (very occasional) glimpses of hope.

    I learned a lot of new facts, but as a piece of literature, how original is this book? Any one of us can fill up a calendar, accordingly, with little-known or forgotten facts from human history and then call it a book. Anyway, not for me.

    That being said, I have probably picked the wrong first book to read by Galeano. I should have started with Memory of Fire, which sounds impressive and seems to be the kind of book I would typically enjoy (I don't have the time at the moment to read a long three-volume novel, however).

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