Bioy Casares, the writer of a number of amazing novels, such as The Invention of Morel, Diary of the War of the Pig, and Asleep in the Sun, is the cleverest and talented writer that Argentina has given birth to during the 20th century, together with Borges. This novel, written and published in 1985 by The Master, which develops at a steady pace, as if the events took place during a restless dream, is the last stroke of genius of his exciting and creative writing career. It is a real swan song.
Nicolasito Almanza is a photographer who arrives at the city of La Plata with the aim of obeying the orders of his boss. His commission involves taking pictures of the main buildings and attractions. But, as soon as he arrives, he starts to witness a series of strange events. On the one hand, his encounter with Lombardo family, the inexplicable attraction that both the father and his two daughters feel for him, and the invitation to spend as much time as possible in the family´s boarding house. On the other hand, his roommate, an old police friend called Mascardi, who starts to investigate this strange relation and makes the photographer feel concerned. The characters that he would meet while taking pictures around town are outlandish and behave funnily. The entire atmosphere of the book resembles a bad dream, a restless dream, one of those which make us toss and turn in bed, and whose stories are later remembered as within a foggy environment.
I believe that this is an extraordinary book, written with expertise, and reading it is extremely peaceful. The story is interesting and full of surprises. The characters never do what the reader may deem proper and the only constant fact is Nicolasito Almanza´s desire to fulfill his boss´s wishes to take the requested pictures, something that should be very easy to do for him. Everything else will conspire to make his task both difficult and dangerous, forcing him to follow a long and arduous path to fulfill his commission.
Translated by Flavia Marcos & Natalia Riera: RIMA Traducciones