The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Category: Fiction, Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback, 342 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books, imprint of Penguin Books
Pub Date: July 3, 2012
The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero is a fictional mystery novel surrounding the investigating requested by the famous poet, Pablo Neruda, to the main character, Cayetano Brulé, to search for an unknown medical scientist named Ángel Bracamonte in hopes of what is assumed to be a medical cure and breakthrough for Cancer.
Though the backdrop of the novel is lush in its description of Valparaíso and the Latin American setting, food, and culture, it is also heavily laden with politics during the socialist reign of President Salvador Allende that ends with the coup d’état and dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
And behind the story and search by Neruda-imposed investigator, Brulé, is the revelation of Pablo Neruda’s obsession with women and what his own personal friends have described as “serial monogamy.”
Though the premise of the story could make for a compelling story, especially for one who admires Neruda’s politics or poetry, actually falls short in its exhaustive narrative style, which had in my opinion, far too many characters and character names to remain clear and transparent.
The reading felt much like a confusing clutter of thoughts, actions, and politics that told a story rather than effectively showed one, which made for a labour-intensive read and an inevitable distant relationship between reader and narrator and narrative.
Aside from a few snippets of wise advise found in the examples of:
“Love, Don Pablo, I’m asking whether you still believe in love.”
“Don’t be naïve, young man. That’s a lifelong thing.” – p. 156
“Existence is nothing more than a damn succession of disguises and good-byes, a journey brimming with traps and disappointments that impels you to make mistakes and then boasts an elephant’s memory, not forgiving a single slip,” – p. 232
the novel fails to leave a long-lasting impression.
A special thank you to Penguin Books for providing me with an ARC of the book in exchange for an unpaid and honest review.
Are you familiar with Pablo Neruda’s poems?
Which one is your favourite?