Jorge Ibargüengoitia: Los relámpagos de agosto (The Lightning of August)


The latest addition to my website is Jorge Ibargüengoitia‘s Los relámpagos de agosto (The Lightning of August), a very funny novel whcih ruthlessly satirises the memoirs of Mexican Civil War generals and the generals themselves. This novel is in the form of the memoirs of a fictitious Civil War general, called José Guadalupe Arroyo. He is now retired but telling his memoirs to show how gloriously he behaved and how he was betrayed by others, misunderstood and generally badly treated. He is in retirement at the beginning of the novel, when he receives a summons from an old comrade who is now president-elect and wants Arroyo to be his private secretary. After a night of debauchery, in celebration, he sets out for Mexico City only to learn, while en route, that the president-elect has had a stroke and died. At the funeral, he learns from the president-elect’s widow that Perez H has stolen the golden watch which the president-elect wanted Arroyo to have. When he meets Perez H, he pushes him in a puddle. This will cause him all sorts of problems later, not least because the widow finds the watch, which was not stolen. Soon thereafter, Perez H becomes interim president but Arroyo is too proud to apologise for his behaviour. Conspiracies and counter-conspiracies, mocking not only the Mexico of the time but Mexico as it would later become, take place as everyone tries to make sure they get their piece of the pie. Fighting breaks out and the fact that Arroyo does not do well is, of course, not his fault but the fault of other incompetents, as he is eager to tell us. It is very well done but hardly likely to have endeared him to the then Mexican ruling party.

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