cover image Bariloche


Andrés Neuman, trans. from the Spanish by Robin Myers. Open Letter, $16.95 trade paper (186p) ISBN 978-1-948830-62-1

The gloriously pungent debut novel from Neuman (Fracture), first published in 1999 and translated with marvelous precision by Myers, follows a pair of garbagemen through their early morning shifts in Buenos Aires. Demetrio Rota, the brooding and insomniac protagonist, is first seen with his brash and simple-minded partner, El Negro, under a “sunless dawn,” the street “weakly lit” by their neon uniforms. At night, Demetrio works on jigsaw puzzles of alpine scenes. The pictures composed by Demetrio’s puzzles evoke memories of growing up in Patagonia, including that of a tortured love affair with an older girl when he was a young teen, and the time his father beat him for spending the night with her. With the puzzles and Demetrio’s insomnia, Neuman sets the stage for past and present to blur into a waking dream. El Negro, meanwhile, gripes about his wife, Verónica, whom be suspects is unfaithful, and taunts Demetrio for not joining him at soccer games, unaware that Demetrio’s the one sleeping with Verónica. Demetrio’s messy affairs jumble seamlessly in his consciousness as he stumbles through the workday with El Negro, and the two lonely, mismatched men come to mirror each other in fascinating ways. This is phenomenal. (Jan.)