cover image Regarding Roderer

Regarding Roderer

Guillermo Martinez. St. Martin's Press, $13.95 (90pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11374-2

This brief, provocative first novel from Martinez, an Argentine who in 1982 won his country's National Short Story Award, tells of the disruption of a young boy's tidy world by a newcomer in town. The new arrival, Gustavo Roderer, is the same age as the unnamed narrator and challenges his comfortable position as the smartest pupil in class. Possessed of an otherworldy intelligence, Roderer quarrels with the very assumptions that the narrator has unthinkingly, and so handily, memorized and conquered. The story follows the narrator as he leaves his home village for college and, briefly, for war; the narrator's sister, who falls adoringly in love with the curious new boy; and Roderer himself, who stays holed up in his room, mysteriously compelled to rework the traditional systems of Western philosophy. The boys' relationship is subtly motivated by Roderer's need to glean any knowledge that the narrator-a walking guide to current trends in academe-carries with him, as well as by the narrator's panicked envy of Roderer's mind and his self-proclaimed mission. Most of the book's interest lies in the development-or deterioration-of Roderer; the narrator's voice, which seems sometimes selfishly recalcitrant, does little to generate interest in him. (Nov.)