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ALL MY GOODBYES by Mariana Dimópulos Kirkus Star


by Mariana Dimópulos ; translated by Alice Whitmore

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-945492-15-0
Publisher: Transit Books

A young Argentinian woman leads a peripatetic existence—circling the globe in search of a way to stop moving. When she finally returns to the Southern Hemisphere, she stumbles upon a kind of belonging only to have it stripped away by two gruesome murders.

In Málaga she is called Luisa; in Barcelona, Lola; but regardless of the narrator's uncertain name and changing life story, the reader knows her intimately through the disarming simplicity of her voice. Dimópulos’ main character is the daughter of a methodically nihilist physicist and has been raised to view every part of her world as wholly conditional. She leaves Buenos Aries for Madrid when she is 23, in part as a form of escape from her father’s expectations. At first, the narrator is content to “play…at the artist’s life,” rooming with a Uruguayan guitar player, smoking hashish, and “[worrying], ostensibly, about the grim fate of the world.” Soon enough, however, she begins to feel her prototypical brand of restless alienation and launches herself into hapless continental wandering. From Madrid to Almagro, from Málaga to Heidelberg to Berlin, from Greece to Tunisia, back to Buenos Aires and down to the tip of Patagonia, the narrator creates lives marked by repetition, simplicity, entangled passions, and, ultimately, the freedom to disassemble her identity and start again. Along the way, she intersects with a cast of characters—acerbic doña Carmen, uber-capitalist Stefan, earnest Alexander, and the forlorn Julia and her young son, Kolya—all of whom try to make a space which will entice her to stay. It is not until she signs on as a seasonal laborer at the Patagonian mountain farm of Marco Cupin and his mother that she discovers a place where she can finally “recline without a shred of skepticism, trusting completely in the resilience of chairs and beds,” a place where she can become “a magnificent animal: soft, compact, whole.” When that illusory wholeness is stripped away by the murders of Marco and his mother, the narrator begins to weave together the disparate threads of her many identities into a slim, contradictory, thorny assemblage of memories, impressions, and thoughts that do not define her life so much as observe it, scientifically, as if from a great distance.

A marvelously interior novel, unique in its perceptions, that traffics both in the joy of invention and the sorrow of memory.