Monday, 17 August 2020

Trafalgar by Angélica Gorodischer

Trafalgar by Angélica Gorodischer
First published in Spanish in Argentina in 1979. English language translation by Amalia Gladhart published by Penguin Classics on the 6th August 2020.

My 1970s read for my 2019-20 Decade Challenge - which I have now completed! - and one of my Classics Club Challenge reads.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Part pulp adventure, part otherworldly meditation, this is the story of Trafalgar Medrano: intergalactic trader and lover of bitter coffee and black cigarettes. In the bars and cafés of Rosario, Argentina, he recounts tall tales of his space escapades - involving, among other things, time travel and dancing troglodytes.

Trafalgar has got to be one of the weirdest books I have read in quite some time and it's one that is difficult to describe in a way that really does it justice. It's a series of short stories recounting the spacewide adventures of Trafalgar Medrano, yes, but without much in the way of technical information that would characterise a science fiction novel these days. Trafalgar flies between various worlds in his Clunker spaceship, but we never get to find out how it works or, indeed, how he can travel such vast distances in the short periods of time his travels last. No one else, it seems, has ever seen the Clunker, but the Rosario locals enjoy sitting back with a whiskey to listen to his latest unbelievable adventure. I suppose I can best evoke Trafalgar by saying it's a blend of the The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, The More Known World by Tiffany Tsao and The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish.

Trafalgar Medrano himself is quite irritating as a character and I think this is probably deliberate on the part of Gorodischer to make him so. I loved his coffee obsession though and appreciated the device of having most of his storytelling taking place in the elegant Burgundy club. Marcos the waiter is an amusing diversion and elderly Aunt Josefina is a brilliant creation. It's a shame she only gets the one interlude. By the end of the book, I felt Trafalgar had pretty much outstayed his welcome. There's a lot of scene-setting repetition between each of Trafalgar's flights of fancy which would work better if the stories were read maybe one a day, or performed individually on a weekly radio play or podcast. Overall, I'm glad to have had this opportunity to read Gorodischer although I probably won't rush to search out more of her work.

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Books by Angelica Gorodischer / Science fiction / Books from Argentina

1 comment:

  1. See, this would never work for me because I have to know why and how and since you never learn how the spaceship works... that would just bug me.