Margo Glantz: El rastro (The Wake)

The latest addition to my website is Margo Glantz‘s El rastro (The Wake). This is one of two of her novels that have been translated into English. This novel is narrated by Nora Garcia, a professional cellist, who is attending the funeral of her late ex-husband, Juan. He had been a famous composer and pianist. They had divorced when he was unfaithful and she had not been back to the village where they lived together and he had lived till his death, for some time. She finds the buzz of voices at the wake disturbing and does not take to the people, most of whom she does not know. However, most of the novel is taken up with her thoughts, which are portrayed like a piece of classical music, with themes emerging, fading away, coming back and merging wih other themes. These themes include, of course, classical music, both what she and Juan had done together but also a range of other classical music she thinks about, the heart, particularly the medical aspect of the heart (both Juan and the pianist Glenn Gould, Juan’s favourite, had died of heart failure), the comments of Maria, a woman she did know, who tells her more than once about her take on Juan’s illness and death, Dostoevsky, life and love. It is a very fine novel, enhanced if you have a knowledge of or, at least an interest in classical music, though that is not essential to appreciate its qualities.

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