A touching and amusing look at friendship through the eyes of four Argentine soccer fans.
One of the men, Mono, is dying of cancer. His brother and their two best friends worry about how to ensure the financial future of Mono's daughter, Guadalupe. But there is no money, as Mono has invested all he owned in a sort-of-promising young soccer player named Pittilanga. The kid isn't bad, but clearly he's not a star. So the friends concoct a plan to sell off their interest in Pittilanga for enough cash to provide for Guadalupe. The problem is that the player's stats don't justify asking for the amount of money they need. When was the last time he scored a goal? The too-brief chapters—many just a couple of pages long—go back and forth from before to after Mono's passing but don't dwell on his death or his friends' mourning. Instead, they follow the sometimes-harebrained schemes for raising Pittilanga's value, such as faking his stats. All four friends readily insult each other in mostly good humor, not sparing Mono, who wants to stay fully involved during his treatments: “But I can’t leave everything on hold,” he tells a friend. “I can’t stop living my life until I get cured or until I die.” But tensions increase when it looks like everything is going to blow up in their faces. It's a story that gets better the more the friends doubt each other. One minor annoyance is the constant use of ellipses in quotes, often three or four at a time—"..." "..." "..." "..."—apparently to show that the characters are pausing to think. Alas, it’s a distraction that doesn’t work well.
What does work is the clever ending, which makes the tale worth the telling. Overall, the book is a pleasure to read.