AYACUCHO, GOODBYE and MOSCOW'S GOLD

TWO NOVELLAS

In these two Peruvian allegories, Ortega tries to use caustic humor to convey a nation haunted by government repression, daily terrorism, and communism—but fails when every joke falls flat. The first novella, ``Ayacucho, Goodbye,'' focuses on the plight of a young campesino leader named Alfredo C†nepa. In order to halt his involvement in the socialist peasant uprising, the government publicly accuses him of being a Red terrorist, tortures him, throws him into a ravine, blows his limbs off one at a time with grenades, and buries him in an unmarked grave. But C†nepa can't rest without a proper Christian burial, and that can't happen because so many body parts got lost in the excitement. So the dead man gathers himself up (at least, what's left) and makes for Lima to collect the bones that remain in police custody. He meets lots of people along the way, including fellow reformers who complain (``You're not dead and you're not alive. In the revolutionary struggle there's no room for centrists'') and some cocaine dealers who force him to become a carrier (``You only have one choice...and it's the choice this country faces too: either get rich or die right now''). Readers root for C†nepa in his struggle to reach his final resting place—but less because he deserves it and more because it means an end to the painful dialogue. Fortunately, the next novella, ``Moscow's Gold,'' proves less irritating. Here, a high school student suffers when his best friend Alberto reveals he's a Communist. The narrator wants to think Alberto has been brainwashed and tries to focus on the things they have in common (writing, books, and women), but during high school military training, when the two find themselves on opposite teams, the narrator's true animosity surfaces. Ortega's heavy-handed approach and obsession with satire overshadows these potentially powerful narratives.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-935480-66-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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