Friday, August 9, 2013

Vasquez And Sounds Of Things Falling

The Sounds Of Things Falling
Young law professor Antonio Yammara only knew Ricardo Laverde about a year. He had met him a few weeks before Christmas at a billiards club, where both men liked to isolate themselves from the bigger problems of Bogota, Colombia.

Drawn in after learning Laverde was an ex-convict, Yammara invited Laverde to play with him. And from that day forward, the two men would settle into a routine for a few days, even if they mostly remained strangers. Yammara wouldn't have even known that Laverde was married, except he wanted a second opinion on a photo and asked the professor what he thought.

The photo was presumably a gift, something to help rekindle an unlikely reunion after 20 years. That was how long the couple had been separated. She was coming from the United States for Christmas.

But what neither men could guess was that the reunion would never happen. Her plane would never arrive. Flight 965 would crash into the west side of El Diluvio, killing almost all 155 passengers. There were only four survivors, none of which were Elena Fritts de Laverde.

The Sound Of Things Falling is a haunting depiction of intertwined events. 

Yammara remembers hearing about the crash the next morning, but doesn't connect it to his mysterious acquaintance. He had other things on his mind, including the first ultrasound of his future daughter. For the first time in his life, he felt in control of his destiny and changed by the promise of being a father.

He was so sure of it, he forgot all about Laverde until after the holidays. When the two meet again at the billiards club, Laverde ignores Yammara until deciding to ask if the professor happens to know anyone with a cassette recorder. Yammara suggests a lounge and the two walk over together.

Whatever is on the tape, it leaves Laverde visibly shaken. So Yammara closes his eyes, hoping to give Laverde some privacy in whatever moment of sadness he is experiencing. When he opens them again, Laverde is gone.

Unsure of why Laverde left, Yammara attempts to catch up to him. And that is when it happened. Just as Yammara did catch up, two motorbike assassins drive by and open fire on them. The bullets kill Laverde and wound the professor, leaving him physically damaged and suffering with post-traumatic stress. In the months that followed, he begins to feel compelled to investigate Laverde and understand why he had been shot.

The balance of the novel plays out in an increasingly absorbing and tragic mystery. As Yammara slowly begins to fall into the intimate details of this stranger's life, he also begins to fall out of his own. In his pursuit, he finds a life that parallels Colombia, enriched and then destroyed, and the inability to avoid fate.

Juan Gabriel VasquezA couple graphs about about Juan Gabriel Vasquez.

Juan Gabriel Vasquez studied law at the University of Rosario in Bogota before living in Paris for four years. There, he studied Latin American literature and earned his doctorate. He later lived in both the Ardennes and Barcelona.

He has written several novels, including two early works that he ignores. He is also a columnist in the Colombian newspaper El Espectador, and sometimes works as a translator. He currently lives and teaches in Barcelona, where he lives with his wife and twin daughters.

The Sound Of Things Falling By Juan Gabriel Vasquez Breaks 7.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The novel, The Sound Of Things Falling, carries significant literary weight in telling the story of two men and a vivid account of Colombia's history. It is a masterpiece in the level of intimacy Vasquez is able to lay out on the pages, even if the plot exhibits a weakness in a thesis that both men are somehow victims of circumstance. The question whether or not they are forced to relinquish control of their lives lingers.

You can find The Sound of Things Falling: A Novel available on Amazon. You can also find the novel at Barnes & Noble or download it for iBooks. You can download the audiobook, which is read by Mike Vendetti. The narration suffers from some rough spots, including dropouts. The better bet is to read the translated text by Anne McLean, who manages to retain the author's remarkable command for literature.
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