MEMORY OF FIRE: Vol. III, The Century of the Wind by Eduardo Galeano

MEMORY OF FIRE: Vol. III, The Century of the Wind

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The previous two volumes of Galeano's trilogy gave ample warning, but the true agitprop nature of this collage of South and North American history from pre-Colombian time onward is truly clarified when contemporary events come under scrutiny. Worse than propaganda even, Galeano's effort seems like a passel of captions for a leftist People Magazine. Heroes and heroines are littered throughout, all indexed according to the amount of unfairness doled out to them: ""Lungs of deep night: Bessie Smith, immensely fat, immensely black, curses the thieves of Creation. Her blues are the hymns of poor drunk black women of the slums. They announce that the whites and the supermen and the rich who humiliate the world will be dethroned."" Name the nonconformist or leftist or underdog saint, and Galeano will have an lozenge-sized icon in purple prose for him or her; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Orozco, Neruda, Charlie Chaplin, Garcia Márquez, even Elvis Presley. It's bathos--but not as off-putting as the selective fillets of ""history"" that Galeano apportions: lots of short takes, for instance, on US imperialist misadventure in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, but only blissful passes at the start of revolutionary Edens such as Castro's Cuba and Sandinista Nicaragua (""The Nicaragua newly born in the rubble is only a few hours old, fresh new greenery among the looted ruins of war; and the signing light of the first day of Creation fills the air that smells of fire"")--without any mention, of course, of later complexities. Shameful historical fakery, dressed up as postmodern light-footedness.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1988
Publisher: Pantheon