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A Novel

José Pablo Feinmann; translated by David William Foster; introduction by Douglas Unger

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

Series: The Americas Series

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

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pp. vii-xiv

Argentine social and political realities can seem to non- Argentine readers like a complex labyrinth fi lled with a perplexing noise of contention and complaint, and with each new turn the threat of violence. Shock at pain and blood is followed by grief at human loss, as is appropriate in response to tragedy. An equally valid response is that of the alienated spectator in a theater of ...

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William Morris, Province of Buenos Aires,September 7, 1970, 9:00 pm

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pp. 3-22

The guy who’s sitting at the table. The one next to the window, which allows him to look outside, checking on things. That guy is Fernando Abal Medina, the Montonero who killed Aramburu. He killed him thirty or thirty-five days ago. Now they are going to kill him. Our story is not about his death, but about Aramburu’s. The story in which Fernando kills Aramburu, far ...

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Federal Capital, Final Days of May 1970,between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm

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pp. 23-26

One thing is certain from the start: el General usually leaves his house around 11:00 am. But not always. Which proves there are no absolute certainties. Except to kidnap him, but that certainty belongs to them. The rest, reality, offers no guarantees of any kind. Everything is a risk, unstable ground. Sometimes the general emerges; sometimes he does not. The result is that it would be chancy to trap him on the street. It is not advisable ...

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pp. 27-40

He’s now returned home. He has no idea that he’s being watched. Right now, from the reading room of the Champagnat. If he had known it, he would probably have thought we were soft, easy clay in the hands of history that we think we are making and that has surprises, frightening things, in store for us. You think you are the creator of new, never-before-imagined events. The patriot has taken the country’s history fi rst one way and then ...

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pp. 41-48

Why not take advantage of this morning walk and pick him up in the street? It would be enough to cover the back window of the automobile with a curtain and hang a suit from each of the side windows. They toss that idea. The street is always risky. You’ve got to take advantage of the weakness the victim presents. That weakness is that there is no bodyguard. It seems strange, ...

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pp. 49-52

Fernando must have known the priest Carlos Mugica. Everything now really began to change. The Tacuara Nationalist Movement breaks off from the Tacuara Revolutionary Nationalist Movement. The demoniacal priest Menvielle becomes infuriated and creates the Nationalist Restorational Guard, which is like Tacuara or worse. Its acronym, because these things are important, was ingenious and cruel: GRN. It’s a grunt. Menvielle ...

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pp. 53-60

The fact that Emilio Ángel Maza has military training is decisive. But in addition to this knowledge, he must be seen as a military man. Fernando is very young. Nevertheless, he has practiced efficiently. It turned out not to be too arduous for him to slip into the skin of a military man. Fernando, and we’ve got to say it once again, is the ideal partner for a woman of the operation. They call her Gaby and she is Norma Arrostito, the Montonero woman. A ...

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pp. 61-67

There are problems, but they overcome them. Repairmen from the light company or the gas company start to do some work on Montevideo Street. They become upset. Why now? But they waste no time in finding a place in which the pavement is not torn up. It’s all taken care of. The path to Aramburu is cleared. They are almost not afraid, unwavering: every thing will turn out fine. They have a safe house in Villa Urquiza. That’s where ...

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pp. 68-77

There are a few minor details that add tension to the story. We ignore them, setting them aside. We are concentrating on what is essential. That which cannot help but be narrated. But, why deprive ourselves of a few things that might take place? If they add tension or not to the story is secondary and is of no importance to us. And what if they enrich it, give it substance, density? Would they not be, in that case, part of what is essential? Besides, what ...

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pp. 78-80

It all seemed strange to Aramburu. They’re kidnapping him? Is it so easy to kidnap him? Don’t these youngsters realize the gravity of what they are doing? He is who he is, Pedro Eugenio Aramburu. He’s not a politician, he’s not a civilian. He is not a military man of insignifi cant rank and little importance. The country will explode if something happens to him. A lot of people owe him a lot. The country owes him a lot. And the country ...

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pp. 81-83

Unlike the others, she got her start in Marxism. Nothing to do with churches or sermons from the pulpit or hosts or bowing down before the tortured man on the Cross. She read Marx, Lenin. She didn’t read Hegel, but something she did read—or found things relating to her in other authors—on the basis of which she reached that conclusion that we all, sooner or later, reach: Hegel is every where. Or, as someone said, every ...

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pp. 84-87

Ramus and Capuano sit in the front of the pickup. Aramburu, Fernando, and Firmenich are in back. The young centurions are beginning to feel that things are going just fine. Even too well. Will it be that easy? Or is destiny preparing a surprise for them? They don’t think very much. There is no time. A little bit later, another change. They climb into a Gladiator. None of this is very important. They have another goal: Timote. They know how to ...

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pp. 88-93

Let us suppose we decide to say something about the place where they are going. It is not a harebrained decision. What is going to happen is going to happen there. Rather than being harebrained, it is logical to say something about the place. If one were to write a novel that takes place in Tartagal, it must say something about Tartagal. If it takes place in Niza, about Niza. Somewhat less, because almost everyone knows something about Niza. Or ...

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pp. 94-97

They arrive at La Celma around 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening. It’s a ranch house. It’s not foreign to them. They do not enter a place that doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to Carlos Gustavo Ramus’s family. Aramburu realizes this. That calms him down a bit. They are kids from good families, families linked to the land, to the country. They get out. They walk toward the house. Suddenly, a problem. Every ranch has a loyal foreman. He’s the type ...

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pp. 98-99

Aramburu is not wearing his jacket. He’s also not wearing a tie. He still doesn’t have a clear picture of what’s happening. This will not last long: perhaps soon every thing will be all too clear. They put him in one of the bedrooms. The youngsters go about without talking. Possibly they smoke. People smoked a lot then. We don’t know if Aramburu has asked for a cigarette. We don’t know if they offer him one. At least a cup of coffee? They ...

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pp. 100-104

The conversation between Ramus and Acébal would not have lasted more than half an hour. Ramus entered the house in search of his companions. Don Acébal put on his Sunday clothes and packed a small bag of clothes. Something told him that the best thing he could do was to put a fair, healthy distance between himself and the ranch. A good stretch, a distance that would lift a weight from his soul. The owner had told him: disappear, Acébal. He had even told him to go find a woman. Nothing like that had ....

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pp. 105-106

He looks calm to the youngsters. If he’s faking it, he does it very well. Fernando attempts to take some photographs of him, but the camera acts up. They use a tape recorder for the trial. Hoping they won’t have the same luck. The tape recorder fulfills its function: it records the entire trial. They must have used a lot of tapes because the trial drags on much longer than they had planned. The youngsters don’t want to pressure him, they don’t ...

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pp. 107-111

The proof is implacable. It has often been said that we are what we do. If that’s the case, no one escapes their past. But I am not what I was. I’ve changed. I no longer hate the Peronistas; I want to make them a part of democ racy. I would no longer execute anyone. I believe that’s now a part of the past, or at least that’s where it should be. You can’t build a country on the basis of hate. Why do these youngsters make me remember Valle? I’m not the same ...

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pp. 112-113

Let us suppose that Aramburu says, “There’s not much I can tell you about Eva Perón’s body.” Let us suppose that Firmenich says, “This is not the time to talk about that.” Fernando approaches him. He likes to stare at Aramburu. Especially when he says important things to him. Like now. “You’re planning an overthrow of the state. If you deny it, we won’t believe you. We have good sources.” ...

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pp. 114-117

Franco Riganti has set a bottle of Bols on the table. That warms up every get-together. Even more so if it’s among friends. Gin is a great thing. You’ve got to take it slowly. That’s why you drink it in those thick glasses that make so much noise when you slam them down on the table. There’s nothing more perfect than gin—served in one of those small but solid glasses you can’t break with a stick—to make a point, sum things up categorically, ...

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pp. 118-120

“Who’s going to give it to him?” Fernando asks, who knows. “You?” Aramburu is eating some uncured ham. There’s also some good country cheese on his plate. He’s drinking Coca-Cola. He doesn’t answer Fernando’s question. After all, they all know. The one who’s going to give a shove to Onganía is him, no doubt about it. Him and all those who are with him. The problem is Gray-Head Lanusse, who’ll not move a finger to save Onganía. But it’s not likely he would get involved with a project in which ...

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pp. 121-123

Gaby has sat down in front of a typewriter. What kind is it? An Olivetti, a Remington? Let us suppose it is a Lettera 32. Does she write the communiqués or were they already written? It would be usual for them to have already been written. No one can write the future. Or foretell it in communiqués. Probably— it’s one possibility—it’s Ramus who has gone from La Celma to the house where Norma is and has returned. Who moves around ...

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pp. 124-127

Aramburu continues, “Perón’s democ racy was incomplete: it marginalized the anti-Peronistas. So was that of the anti- Peronistas: it marginalized Perón, and it marginalized you.” “Excuse me, but it’s not the same thing,” Fernando says. “Democracy is the government of the majority.” “As far as the minorities are concerned.” “I’m sorry to hear you use that phrase,” Fernando says, shaking his head in disagreement. “That’s pure liberal garbage. Democracy is the government of the people. And the minorities, the stinking ...

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pp. 128-133

Aramburu is seated on the bed. Sitting there like that, with no jacket, with exhaustion of the day showing on his face, the wrinkles that stand out in deep furrows—especially the two that extend down from the sides of his mouth, the two that give him the look of bitterness—with his sad eyes, his pants wrinkled, sitting there like that, he doesn’t look like Aramburu. But he is. And every thing that is transpiring in La Celma Ranch and every thing ...

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pp. 134-136

What could he tell them about Evita? Could they, snot-nosed kids between twenty and twenty-three years old, understand something he might explain to them? Do you pretend to know her? I saw her up close, I saw her walk, I saw her sit down, stand up. I shook her hand innumerable times. I saw her very expensive clothes, her shoes. I heard her speak, I saw her smile—I never saw her cry. Then I saw her hair bun, that tailored suit she wore like a uniform, ...

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pp. 137-138

Arrostito expected something like that. The services never sleep. They react immediately. Various “communiqués” appeared from “armed organizations.” Aramburu had been kidnapped by half the world. A painful, but no less unexpected, bit of information needs to be added. A pack of jerks, adventurers must have set a trap with rotten meat to produce such an uproar. The country is in flames. No one knows a thing. But the “heroes” continue to crop up. From the right, from the left. It’s necessary ...

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pp. 139-142

“I don’t have much to say about that. Others took care of it.” Firmenich shakes his head. He takes his time to say, “We don’t believe you. Everything went through your hands.” Aramburu pretends to be surprised. “With Rojas there with me? Given the hatred the vice presidency had for the Navy?” “Rojas wasn’t able either to do anything you had no knowledge of,” the other comrade—the one we have decided to call “Julio” ...

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pp. 143-149

The next day they interrogate him without the tape recorder. Aramburu’s beard has grown out even more. This marks him even more than the wrinkles. And his cheeks are completely sunken, like two bags that hang down and sadly frame his face. He doesn’t seem like he is much disposed to fight. His judges are fresh. They haven’t shaved, either, but they have less beard. It’s a detail that the leader whom they are defending today will use ...

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pp. 150-156

Ramus arrives for the trial. He knows he’s got to be there. He has come and gone many times from the capital. He’s missed a lot of it, most of it. But he knows he fulfi lled his part. Someone had to establish the link between Timote and the monster of a thousand heads, that city in which every thing took on immense, imposing dimensions. “It’s an infernal mess,” he describes. “Nobody knows a thing. Everybody knows every thing. The cops are all running crazy all over the place. Onganía doesn’t know what to do. He knows that ...

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pp. 157-161

“The General is clever,” Fernando says. “That goes against him. It’s strange, isn’t it? If he were dimwitted, clumsy, an animal of a military man, it could save his life. But he condemned himself by making use of so many resources. Only someone intelligent could argue with so many fallacies, so many traps, so many sharp arguments, even if they were false, to keep from dying.” Firmenich clucks his tongue in irritation. “So much phony baloney,” he says. “He thinks he can play us for fools. Thinks his age gives him the right. His ...

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pp. 162-168

Aramburu watches him walk in. What is this hothead going to tell him? He looks more and more like a madman, like a Jacobin. A Jacobin without a people. Without the French Revolution. He invented the Revolution. He can’t contain himself. He asks, “So? What did you decide? Are you going to join my project or are you going to sink into the latrines of clandestinity?” “What a sentence, General,” Fernando says with irony. “I’m ...

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pp. 169-177

Don Franco Riganti likes to have his grocery store full of people. Not only because it brings in good money. But also because he feels less lonely. Especially on a Sunday night, like today. He’s seated at the head of a large table filled with friends. Don Acébal is sitting next to him. They have eaten and drunk in abundance. Now they are talking about what needs to be talked about. About what everyone’s talking about. Because even though no one has heard from Aramburu since Friday, even if all the newspapers, the radio, and TV have blanketed the country with ...

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pp. 178-182

The night of the thirty-fi rst, Gaby Arrostito spent almost an hour looking at the typewriter. She has to type up the last communiqué. Fernando already wrote it and one supposes that she must obediently get it out. There’s a problem. She doesn’t like it. It’s long. It’s solemn. It’s boastful. “Our or ga ni za tion has thus fulfi lled the will of the people, which is ours also. If we have taken the life of this blood-stained general, it is because we are disposed to offer ours in the defense of our country so aggrieved ...

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pp. 183-185

He comes out and looks at his comrades. There they are, seated around the large dining room table, biding their time, like hunters ready to get on with it and get back to town, leave the jungle. The jungle is always dangerous—strange territory where you plunge in with courage but almost always exit defeated. The time has come. Let us suppose that Firmenich says, “We can’t continue to put this matter off.” Ramus picks up a bottle of beer and takes a long, hard ...

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pp. 186-188

He rejoins his comrades. Firmenich’s not happy to see him. “Did you talk to him again? Did it take you so long to say something so simple? ‘General, we’re going to rub you out.’ That’s all you had to say.” “He’s not just anybody,” Fernando says. He picks up a piece of bread and spreads butter on it. He doesn’t know why, but talking to Aramburu made him hungry. What’s the matter? Did something the condemned man said upset him? We don’t know. We know the end is near and that it’s Fernando who will have to kill ...

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pp. 189-192

Lord, I ignored you for a long time. Too long. I don’t know how long. I can’t know. How can I know what’s a lot or a little for Your eternal essence? As far back as I can remember, ever since I was a child or barely a young man who mumbled his prayers, I have sought to free You from me. Not to burden You with my actions. Not to be the judge of my errors, of what I did right. I always stuck to thanking You for the miracle of exis tence. Of the life You have given me. That was enough. The years went by and I discovered, painfully,...

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pp. 193-201

Aramburu watches them come in. There they are: they’ve come to kill him. No more time for words. Each one knows where the other one stands. What he’s thinking. What he wants to do. Especially, in his case, what he did. Is Aramburu thinking about Valle? Not likely. They’re not going to kill me for what happened to Valle. I’m a symbol. The guy who threw Perón out. One knows the risks he takes. He should have foreseen this. But he never imagined that kids like this could show up. Revolutionaries ...

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pp. 202-208

Fernando and Aramburu are left alone. Fernando takes out the 9 mm. “You won’t suffer, General,” he says. “I don’t care if I suffer. I regret losing my life.” “We’re done with words.” He raises the pistol and points at Aramburu’s body. At most, there’s barely a yard between them. Aramburu stands up. Not only that—he stretches himself to offer his chest. Fernando is not surprised. He would have been surprised by something extreme, fi nal, on the part of his victim. ...

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pp. 209-215

They wait until night to return to Buenos Aires. They speak little during the day. Fernando spends his time sleeping. At around 8:00 pm they leave Timote. They travel in the Gladiator pickup. It’s completely dark. There is a high moon, as perfectly round as something drawn by an infallible, perfect compass. Stars are out. It’s a splendid autumn night. Fernando takes over the driv ing. Firmenich doesn’t like it. He sees him assuming every thing. If he doesn’t do it, it’s ...

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About the Author

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p. 217-217

Philosopher, novelist, essayist, and screenwriter José Pablo Feinmann has helped make philosophy a celebrated topic in the ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780896728073
E-ISBN-10: 0896728072
Print-ISBN-13: 9780896728066
Print-ISBN-10: 0896728072

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: E
Series Title: The Americas Series