In trademark telegraphic style and with familiar themes, Uruguayan social critic Galeano (Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, 2009, etc.) serves up a book of days for our time.
As readers of the Memory of Fire series and his other books will know, Galeano is nigh-on obsessed with the European conquest of America and the bad behavior that accompanied it, to say nothing of the way in which one American nation in particular has repaid the favor by bullying the rest of the world ever since. While his first entry in this calendar is deceptively gentle (“we ought to acknowledge that time treats us rather kindly”), his second harkens to the year in which that conquest began, 1492, when the Jews and Moors were also expelled from Spain and their holy books destroyed in the belief that “Fire was the only fate for words born in hell.” Galeano can be a softie, as when he gurgles over Mozart’s effect on newborns (playing his music is “the best way of telling them, ‘This is your new home’ ”), but mostly, his tone is arch and indignant. The author is perhaps overly fond of the one-sentence paragraph (“Every two weeks, a language dies”), but the structure suits the urgency he conveys. As the book progresses, the order becomes ever more apparent, even as the brief essays skip over continents and centuries. Americans will note, but perhaps not appreciate, his fondness for soccer, rebellion of most varieties and sententious declaration (“In the Age of Almighty Computers, drones are the perfect warriors”).
A cynic might say that it’s more of the same-old preaching to the choir, but Galeano’s many readers will surely find this secular calendar appealing.