Saturday, August 27, 2011

All Yours, by Claudia Piñeiro

All Yours, Argentine writer Claudia Piñeiro's second novel to be translated into English (in this case by Miranda France), is really more a satire than a crime novel, and it's sometimes quite funny, in a dark way. While that's also true of her first book, Thursday Night Widows, that novel is a bit more complex and realistic. All Yours is more like a novella, with a plot that takes a couple of twists and is narrated in several voices but is much more straightforward that the earlier book.

Ines overhears a phone conversation between her husband, Ernesto, and a woman, and suspects betrayal. She follows him and witnesses a confrontation between Ernesto and his secretary: he shoves her and she falls against a tree stump, breaking her neck. Ines sneaks away without confronting Ernesto, and what follows (mostly in her voice but also briefly in his and occasionally in what seem to be police documents) is a tale of self-deception and revenge and a final twist.

Interspersed with the main story is the story, mostly in dialogue, of Ines and Ernesto's teenage daughter, who suffers from typical teenage angst and a few more serious problems. But her story veers off from the main plot without really reconnecting to her parents' tragedy. I don't know if the book would have been better if her story were more developed or simply left out, but it seems underdeveloped and not that relevant as it is.

But All Yours is a quite interesting social satire, making fun of middle-class suburban life in a more straightforward way that Thursday Night Widows. It's a quick read and remains light and entertaining. In a way, it's the flip side of the social portrait given in Ernesto Mallo's dark novels of the military dictatorship and its aftermath. Piñeiro's world is the shallow bourgeois social miasma that has followed a more overtly dangerous political past. The cover, by the way, is very effective as an image, and suggests the sexuality inherent in the story but isn't otherwise very much related to the plot.

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