Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The Boring Veins of Latin America

Friday, May 9th, 2014

It took Eduardo Galeano 44 years to figure out his own book was boring, poorly written bs; it took me 20 minutes. Years later, Hugo Chavez gifted it to Obama,

“This will go a long way towards permanently curing your insomnia, Barack.”

“The open veins of Latin America” is a boring undocumented book, admits his author
Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano said in an interview published on the Argentine newspaper Perfil.com that he considers his 1971 book “The Open Veins of Latin America”, by far his best-known work, to be so bad he will no longer read from it during public appearances.

The book and Galeano are frequently quoted in songs, films and books, and since the 1997 edition has a prologue from the Chilean author Isabel Allende. Galeano, whose real birth name is Eduardo Hughes Galeano (in Spanish first name is father’s and second mother’s), and now a comfortable board member of pharmaceutical labs in Uruguay, thus joins a list of Latin American left wing intellectuals who after having influenced with ideology whole generations don’t feel comfortable with some of their most emblematic works.

But fear not, Latin American Studies programs will continue to have it in their curricula.

And, while I appreciate your buying through my blog’s Amazon links, don’t bother buying The Open Veins of Latin America. Read this instead.

6 good writers from Latin America + 1

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014





First came Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Now César Aira, the late Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Franco, Andrés Neuman, Santiago Roncagliolo and Juan Gabriel Vásquez are ascending:

In Search of the Next Gabriel García Márquez
Six Spanish-language fiction writers making a splash on the literary scene.

The so-called boom arose from a confluence of circumstances—Cold War political upheaval, intrepid Latin American publishing houses, hungry international critics prowling for new global talent, an expanding book-buying Latin middle class—that can’t easily be replicated. But if the boom is over, that doesn’t mean that a bust has followed. Here are six post-boom Spanish-language fiction writers whose works continue to redraw the map of Latin literature.

I would also add Roberto Ampuero to the list.

Garcia Marquez’s black eye: Vargas Llosa ain’t telling

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

A post for us, lit geeks:

On Valentine’s Day, 1976, in Mexico City, Gabriel García Márquez was photographed showing off a shiner (and possibly a broken nose?):

What is known:
On February 12, 1976,

in a Mexico City movie theater packed with people attending the premiere of a film about the plane crash survivors in the Andes who turned to cannibalism.

At one point Mr. Vargas Llosa rushes up to Mr. García Márquez, who innocently tries to embrace him. Instead Mr. Vargas Llosa decks him, Mr. García Márquez’s blood gushing everywhere.

Of course, there’s plenty of speculation as to why. Photographer Rodrigo Moya, who took the above photo, said in 2007

Some had surmised that the fight may have been over politics, since Mr. García Márquez has always been on the left and Mr. Vargas Llosa at the time had begun to migrate to the right. (He later made an unsuccessful attempt to run for president of Peru in 1990 as a free marketeer.) But, as Mr. Moya explains, the cause was a woman, specifically, Mr. Vargas Llosa’s wife, whom Mr. García Márquez consoled during a difficult period in the marriage.

When I first heard of this, I thought the lady in question was Julia Urquidi, the Aunt Julia of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, who was the first Mrs. Vargas Llosa, but it must have been the second Mrs. Vargas Llosa, cousin Patricia Llosa (also mentioned in Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter), who has been married to him since 1965.

No matter:
Peru’s Vargas Llosa to take secret of Garcia Marquez spat to grave

“There’s a pact between Garcia Marquez and myself (not to talk about it),” Vargas Llosa, 78, said at a meeting of right-wing intellectuals in Caracas when a journalist popped the inevitable question following the Colombian’s death last week.

“He respected it until his death, and I will do the same. Let’s leave it to our biographers, if we deserve them, to investigate that issue.”

Which shows you one can throw a punch, be a great writer, and still come out as a gentleman.

And,
Yes, being pro-democracy and civil rights makes you “right-ring”, in the eyes of Reuters.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Well, there’s at least one person out there who dislikes Gabriel García Márquez more than I,

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

and it’s The Diplomad,

One of the great phonies and bootlickers of leftist dictators has passed from the scene. Those who love freedom can only be grateful.

I will speak ill of the dead. It is hard to exaggerate the damage that GGM has done to the image of Latin America and Latin Americans, portraying the region and the people as some sort of quasi-magical place, a place filled with ethereal, mystical beings without logic, common sense, and ordinary human emotions and foibles. For all his “magical realist” vision, he could not or would not see, for example, the horrors brought to Cuba and Cubans by the Castro brothers. On the contrary, he had an enormous house in Havana provided by the regime, with servants and cars at his beck-and-call, and a ready chummy access to the bloodstained brothers and their rule of terror. He convinced generations of gringo academic Latin American “specialists” that the region could not be understood in conventional terms; that supply-and-demand economics did not work there; and that ordinary people did not want individual liberty and political democracy. He helped perpetrate and perpetuate a horrid stereotype of Latin America, one in which the atrocities of leftist regimes could be ignored because the region operated on another level of consciousness, one beyond our poor powers to comprehend. Good riddance to this poseur and his unreadable sentences! An enemy of freedom is gone.

The late great Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas dared to ask, Gabriel García Márquez: ¿Esbirro o es burro? (Tool or fool?) (emphasis added)

Now then, that a writer like Mr. Gabriel García Márquez [GGM or GM henceforth], who has lived and written in the West, where his work has had tremendous impact and acceptance, which has guaranteed him a certain lifestyle and intellectual prestige, that a writer like him, benefiting from the freedom and possibilities such a world offers him, should use them to be an apologist for the communist totalitarianism that turns intellectuals into policemen and policemen into criminals, that is simply outrageous. And that is the attitude of GGM, who has apparently forgotten that the writing profession is a privilege of free men, and that by taking the side of dictatorships, whether Latin American or eastern ones, he’s digging his own grave as a writer and playing along with the lackeys of official power, who climb with hope, but are later reduced to the sad state of a beleaguered rat forced to applaud incessantly its own prison and its supreme warden. On various occasions Mr. GM, golden boy of the western press, full beneficiary of the comfort and guarantees offered by the so-called capitalist world, has made statements condemning the millions of Vietnamese who, in a desperate and suicidal act, throw themselves into the sea fleeing communist terror. Now, to the great indignation of all freedom-loving Cubans, GM, as Fidel Castro’s guest of honor at the recent May Day celebrations, has condemned with his attitude and words the ten thousand Cubans who have sought refuge in the Peruvian embassy, attributing this act and situation to the direction or instigation of so-called American imperialism. In fact, GM also condemns the million Cubans who, risking their lives, take to the sea like in Vietnam to perish or be free, even if that freedom consists of no more than being able to reach a strange country alive and half naked. Apparently, GM likes concentration camps, vast prisons and muzzled thinking. This star of communism is irritated by the flight of the prisoners, just as the great Cuban landowners of the 18th and 19th centuries were irritated by the flight of slaves from their plantations. Enriched by his material earnings in the capitalist world, it bothers GM that other men aspire to or dream of having the same rights he enjoys, the right to write and speak, the right to be, above all, a human being and not an anonymous slave, numbered and persecuted, condemned in the best of cases to retract himself incessantly, and also to inform on himself incessantly.

Arenas, who committed suicide in 1990 while ravaged by AIDS, was a brilliant writer who used magical realism to describe the horrors he endured by the Cuban communist regime.

Today’s GGM headline, Mexico editor: Garcia Marquez left manuscript

The manuscript has a working title of “We’ll See Each Other in August,” (“En Agosto Nos Vemos”).

An excerpt of the manuscript published in Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper contains what appears to be an opening chapter, describing a trip taken by a 50-ish married woman who visits her mother’s grave on a tropical island every year. In the chapter, she has an affair with a man of about the same age at the hotel where she stays.

Hmmm . . . woman of a certain age, tropical island, heat, landscape, music, local inhabitants . . . Wasn’t that How Stella Got Her Groove Back?


Gabriel Garcia Marquez, RIP

Friday, April 18th, 2014

That a human being would waste his prodigious talent in the service of a monstrous dictator after having witnessed such event speaks of a blindness, a void of the soul.

But then, Fidel had gifted García Márquez a fully-furnished mansion in Havana’s best neighborhood (link in Spanish), and a Mercedes, complete with staff, after the 1982 Nobel award was announced.

Read my full post at Da Tech Guy’s blog to find out what event I’m referring to.

While on the subject,

In addition to being Fidel’s pal, Gabo also gave us “Lateeen-ohs” a reputation for being nonsensical and less than rational. His so-called “magical realism” pegged us all as totally out of touch with reality, and tagged us as noble savages — endearing, perhaps, but also annoyingly savage and inferior to rational North Americans and Europeans.

García Márquez also reduced us Puerto Ricans to cultural stereotypes, No se les hable de lógica, pues eso implica razonamiento y mesura y los puertorriqueños son hiperbólicos y exagerados.Don’t speak to them of logic, since that implies reasoning and restraint, and Puerto Ricans are hyperbolic and exaggerated.”

Charming, wasn’t he?

[Note:I am told that the essay on Puerto Ricans was not written by García Márquez. If anyone has the name of the original author, please leave a link in the comments section.]

Check out Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Good Friday meditation on original sin

UPDATE:
In a fellational tribute to Fidel Castro, García Márquez sounds like he wrote copy for Dos Equis in his spare time,

His devotion is to the word. His power is of seduction. He goes to seek out problems where they are. The impetus of inspiration is very much part of his style. Books reflect the breadth of his tastes very well. He stopped smoking to have the moral authority to combat tobacco addiction. He likes to prepare food recipes with a kind of scientific fervour. He keeps himself in excellent physical condition with various hours of gymnastics daily and frequent swimming. Invincible patience. Ironclad discipline. The force of his imagination stretches him to the unforeseen.

And he’s been known to cure insomnia by just walking into a room, yeah.

En español: Infobae entrevista a Casto Ocando, autor de Chavistas en el Imperio

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

El libro que hay que leer:Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos

‘Chavistas en el Imperio’, el libro que “desnuda la gran mentira de la revolución bolivariana”

El discurso de la revolución chavista siempre tuvo un enemigo: “el Imperio”, representado por los EEUU y el capitalismo. Desde que Hugo Chávez llegó al poder, la retórica contra la potencia de América del Norte, la ideología “neoliberal”, “imperialista” y de “capitalismo salvaje” se convirtió en un argumento recurrente para justificar las injusticias del país, de la distribución de la riqueza, excusas que calaron hondamente en los sectores populares.

En paralelo con el discurso radicalizado anti los EEUU, los principales colaboradores de Chávez hicieron de la península de La Florida su paraíso terrenal para desarrollar los peores vicios de la corrupción del modelo bolivariano: ser socialistas en Venezuela y magnates en Miami, Wellington o Palm Beach.

Jorge Heili entrevista a Ocando,

Les recomiendo que lo lean.

New book: Chavistas en el Imperio

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Miguel Octavio reviews Casto Ocando’s new book, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (Chavistas in the Empire: Secrets, Tactics, and Scandals of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United States):

Perhaps nothing summarizes better the book, as Ocando’s revelation in the introduction, that Chavez spent US$ 300 million in propaganda in the US during his first ten years in power. Thus, while Chávez was accusing Washington of trying to destabilize Venezuela, he was outspending Bush and Obama in promoting his revolution. And his buddies in Government, were always (or are?) trying to make friends in the US, to defend their money, their properties and even guarantee protection sometime in the future.

In fact, the promotion was not only of the revolution, but even paying companies in the US to regularly show that Venezuela’s economic numbers were doing well. ironically, while Chávez formed the Venezuelan Information Office and Eva Golinger was hired to show the US was conspiring in Venezuela, there was proof of all the money being spent very directly by the Venezuelan Government to promote itself in teh US and very little proof was ever shown that the US was ding the same thing in Venezuela or elsewhere.

In the end, the book just tells us how Chavismo went from corruption to drugs, joining forces with the FARC, the Iranians and drug cartels, showing that Chávez was willing to allow anything to his buddies in order for the revolution to survive.

This alone would make a valuable contribution to the literature of Latin America’s history.

Ocando, as his Twitter feed notes, is an

Investigative Reporter & Writer with Univision Network. Interests: Public Corruption, Narco-Terrorism, US-LatAm Relations, Venezuela. http://www.univision.com.

I bought the Kindle edition, and will post on it.

Book review – Eyes On Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Sometimes you read a book you can’t wait to recommend to everybody, and this is that book:

Eyes On Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs by Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter, is a gripping read in many ways:
It tells the story of a group of men who will give their all to protect our country, from the point of view of several of the men themselves.
It is the history of the most-feared anti-terrorist force in the world.
And, as the book jacket aptly describes, it

is an inside account of some of the most harrowing missions in American history-including the mission to kill Osama bin Laden and the mission that wasn’t, the deadly attack on the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi where a retired SEAL sniper with a small team held off one hundred terrorists while his repeated radio calls for help went unheeded.

Read my full review here.

And, please, buy the book and read it; it’s a fascinating, scrupulously-researched, moving account of a group of heroic men, and authors Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter lay to rest that “fake, phony scandal” narrative about Benghazi.

En español: Libro Desarrollo económico y pobreza en América Latina: El rol de los Planes Sociales”

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Mis amigos de HACER nos invitan,

Descargue gratuitamente de aquí el libro en PDF “Desarrollo económico y pobreza en América Latina: El rol de los Planes Sociales” publicado por Atlas Economic Research Foundation y la Asociación de Iberoamericanos por la Libertad (AIL) en el que se incluye la investigación “Transferencias condicionadas de dinero: El caso Colombia y su Programa Familias en Acción” llevada a cabo por el equipo de investigacion de la Fundacion HACER en Bogotá, Colombia.

Lo recomiendo.

The Triple Package stirs the pot

Monday, January 6th, 2014


Amy Chua (better known as the Tiger Mom) has a new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America

Why do some groups rise? Drawing on groundbreaking original research and startling statistics, The Triple Package uncovers the secret to their success. A superiority complex, insecurity, impulse control—these are the elements of the Triple Package, the rare and potent cultural constellation that drives disproportionate group success. The Triple Package is open to anyone. America itself was once a Triple Package culture. It’s been losing that edge for a long time now. Even as headlines proclaim the death of upward mobility in America, the truth is that the oldfashioned American Dream is very much alive—butsome groups have a cultural edge, which enables them to take advantage of opportunity far more than others.
•   Americans are taught that everyone is equal, that no group is superior to another. But remarkably, all of America’s most successful groups believe (even if they don’t say so aloud) that they’re exceptional, chosen, superior in some way.
•   Americans are taught that self-esteem—feeling good about yourself—is the key to a successful life. But in all of America’s most successful groups, people tend to feel insecure, inadequate, that they have to prove themselves.
•   America today spreads a message of immediate gratification, living for the moment. But all of America’s most successful groups cultivate heightened discipline and impulse control.
But the Triple Package has a dark underside too. Each of its elements carries distinctive pathologies; when taken to an extreme, they can have truly toxic effects. Should people strive for the Triple Package? Should America? Ultimately, the authors conclude that the Triple Package is a ladder that should be climbed and then kicked away, drawing on its power but breaking free from its constraints.

Apparently this makes her racist.

Ponder that for a moment. A minority woman (who’s a professor at Yale) writes a book saying that a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control which goes hand-in-hand with great self-discipline compel people to better themselves, and, not only is this news, it makes her racist:
Tiger Mom accused of being a ‘full-blown racist’ as her new book names the eight ‘superior’ races and religions that make better parents
Tiger Mom Amy Chua has penned a new parenting guide called ‘The Triple Package’ which lays out a controversial theory for success in modern America
Declares there to be only eight successful and superior groups of people in the United States
Includes the Chinese are one of these groupings along with Indians and Jewish to name two others

Published in the new book, ‘The Triple Package’, that she has written with her Jewish husband Jed Rubenfeld, Chua names the eight groupings that are exceptional in no particular order – and unsurprisingly, the Chinese are one of the top dogs.

The other seven are Jewish, Indian, Iranian, Lebanese-Americans, Nigerians, Cuban exiles and Mormons.

I would add that any parent anywhere in the world who motivates and guides their child to accomplish their potential through hard work, patience and perseverance is superior to a parent who does not.

Another Yale professor, Carlos Eire, a self-made man if ever there was one, writes about his experience:

Cuban exiles are among the eight groups identified by my colleague.

Perhaps identifying us as “superior” will end up causing her additional trouble.  We are, after all, sowrong about everything, so thoroughly despicable, and so worthy of being herded into boats and shipped back to where we came from.

I could be wrong about this, but I think that there is no other group of immigrants or subculture other than Cuban exiles that is so open to criticism, denigration, or open hatred or ridicule.

Imagine anyone publicly denigrating any of the other seven groups singled out by Amy Chua: Jews, Chinese, Iranians, Indians, Lebanese, Nigerians, or even Mormons.

As someone at one of my public lectures said a few years ago: “You people are ruining this country… It’s because of you people that our country is in so much trouble…Why don’t you all just shut up or go back to Cuba!”

Liberals’ expectations of Latinos/Hispanics are such that Carlos’s experience is not unique. The phrase they throw at me (since I have no qualms to point out that I’m a US citizen from birth, upon hearing you people), is “You don’t even look Puerto Rican!”

Racism, indeed.