Friendship, Death and Sports
Papers in the Wind
Eduardo Sacheri, trans. Mara Fay LethemOther Press
Alejandro Raguzzi—nicknamed Mono—dies in the first chapter of Papers in the Wind. He dies so quickly that he's only shown in flashbacks. In the aftermath of Mono's death, his group of friends—suddenly a trio—is left to carry on despite their incredible differences.
Eduardo Sacheri uses the course of Papers in the Wind to build three-dimensional characters who seem, at first, to be thinly veiled stereotypes. Mauricio is a lawyer, ruthless in his ambition to build a better life. Ruso is the fool, failing in one business endeavor after another, always distracted by video games and movies. Fernando is Mono's brother, now living in the shadow of his dead sibling even more than when Mono was alive. Tying these three friends together are Mono's daughter, Guadalupe, her mother, Lourdes, and a soccer player, Mario Pittilanga, whose transfer Mono purchased before his untimely death. When Mono bought the transfer, Pittilanga seemed like a kid on the way up—a surefire investment. And Mono’s daughter could really use the money.
Courtesy of Other Press
The problem? Pittilanga is no longer a sure thing. Sacheri possesses a deft authorial touch, using soccer to explore the changes we all go through in life. As Ruse convinces Pittilanga to switch positions to better his chances of making it to the next level, Fernando devotes himself to taping Pittilanga's matches. Meanwhile, Mauricio sits out almost the entire affair, dividing the previous quartet from a trio to a duo. The strain of losing their friend while trying to salvage his business——while running their own lives—proves enormous.
The novel switches from advancing the story of the group's work promoting Pittilanga to flashbacks showing how the now-broken quartet dealt with Mono's illness. The metaphors are abundant when it comes to the young men's love for their childhood team Independiente. The team won abundantly when the friends were young but has now fallen from its previous glory. Especially poignant is Mono, dying, wondering with his friends if he inadvertently cursed his beloved team by asking for too much, in a manner typical of diehard sports fans.
The ending, almost too tidy, presents a realistic picture of a young man who knows he's dying, reconciling his feelings about life and death, God and the things he's leaving behind. Mauricio, Ruso and Fernando, left reeling by Mono's absence, briefly fall apart—both individually and as a group—before seizing upon the opportunity Mono left for them. Their quartet, once shattered to a couple, is completely healed, if in a trite fashion, at the end of the novel. The ending, though formulaic, is still enjoyable. Papers in the Wind is a breezy summer read and a nice complement to World Cup viewing.
Skulls and Sickles: The Visual Rhetoric of Death in ASARO's Woodblock Prints at UNM Zimmerman Library
When the regional Mexican government violently put down a peaceful teacher’s strike in Oaxaca de Juárez in 2006, the brutality of the police inspired a group of artists in the community to form themselves into a collective called the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca (ASARO) to protest the bloodshed. Two current exhibits in Albuquerque showcase their work. One exhibit at the National Hispanic Cultural Center was curated by the University Libraries and Learning Sciences Curator of Latin American and Iberian Collections Suzanne Schadl and her graduate student Michael de la Rosa. One at the Herzstein Gallery on the second floor of Zimmerman Library on the UNM campus was curated by graduate student Megan Jirón. She writes “Unlike the European or Anglo-American perspective, Mexico’s inhabitants embrace death. They confront it with a sense of playfulness, defiance and acceptance.”
Landscapes at New Concept Gallery
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