Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Speaking as I was the other day of epigraphs, here is a nice one (from one of my birthday books) --
De otros diluvios una paloma escucho
I am taking this to be a reference (or more vaguely an allusion) to the dove that returns to Noah, a message of hope.
-- Ungaretti, 1925
(epigraph to Antonio Dal Masetto's La culpa, 2010)
Sunday, May 20th, 2012
La culpa is (must be said first of all, and I am after all just starting out reading it) an amazing, wonderful book. I have two questions about the setting; I'm hoping someone reading my notes will be able to clue me in.
César leaves Buenos Aires hitchhiking, bound for a Brazilian town on the coast, between Porto Alegre and Florianópolis; the route he takes is north to the Brazilian border, crossing into Uruguayana and then west to Porto Alegre. (This happens before page 1; the book starts with his crossing into Uruguayana.) Looking at a map it seems like it would be shorter to cut northeast through Uruguay; but I have no idea what the ramifications of this would be in terms of ease of travel or specifically of hitching a ride. I'm assuming the route he takes is the natural one but would love to get confirmation/explanation of that. (The historical period is probably of interest here; his trip takes place 16 years after the coup -- or rather, 16 years after his last trip there, which was a few years before the coup -- I assume this is referring to the 1976 coup, so the story must be set, at a guess, in 1988 or 89.)
Also, I wonder how much language difficulty is to be expected for a Porteño hitchhiking in southern Brazil. Communication with all of the people he interacts with seems to be pretty trouble-free -- or any troubles communicating are not based on language barrier -- and the dialog is written in Spanish, but it has crossed my mind to wonder if they are speaking Spanish, Portuguese, or something in-between.
Further research on the hitchhiking route -- Google Maps® suggests as a route from Buenos Aires to Porto Alegre, heading north to Uruguayana (although crossing the river into Uruguay at Concordia), so I guess the coastal route has issues not immediately apparent, and/or does not actually save distance. If the roadways are the same now as they were at the time of the story, it looks like César traveled through Argentina keeping on Highway 14, then across Brazil on Highway 290.