THE SECRET HOLY WAR OF SANTIAGO DE CHILE by Marco Antonio de la Parra

THE SECRET HOLY WAR OF SANTIAGO DE CHILE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An odyssey through modern Chile by way of an apocalyptic cat- and-mouse game set in motion by the phrase: ``They're looking for you, Tito.'' Tito is Tito Livio, the novel's protagonist, an advertising executive and frustrated writer. ``They'' are more elusive: The forces of God and Satan, struggling to control the Chilean soul, have both dispatched goon squads after Tito, who possesses the clue to the missing fourth letter of the Tetragrammaton, the name of God that, when pronounced, unleashes infinite power and knowledge. Chilean playwright de la Parra handles this fantastic plot masterfully, slipping into the flickering slapstick of its Keystone Kopslike cosmic chase shots of social satire and arresting images of political repression under Pinochet. He names Tito's sidekick Sigmund Freud Romero--there's an Aristotle Garcia and a Hegel Cabrera--suggesting: ``That's the tragedy of Chile, being almost a country, an imitation, a pastiche, a parody....'' As Freud and Tito flee the clutches of their rival pursuers, de la Parra shuttles the reader through the night streets of Santiago, vacated by Pinochet's curfews, to confront the corpses of disappeared citizens: ``Dead people exist. They're not television series or propagandistic maneuvers.'' As if to underscore the ``propagandistic maneuvers'' in all endeavors, de la Parra persistently breaks the illusion of his fiction, advertising its artifice: ``He breathed deeply with an end-of-the-chapter look on his face.'' All projects, he seems to suggest, be they aesthetic, divine, or diabolical, employ lies. Maybe so. But how does de la Parra respond? Does he merely anthologize ironies rather than risk meaning or a moral stance? This novel, so brilliantly conversant in so many genres and styles, seems curiously silent on these questions.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-56656-127-2
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Interlink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994




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