CrimeReads, included in a roundup of Crime Novels of Buenos Aires
"Crimes of passion, politics, and perversity pervade the 14 selections in Akashic's noir volume devoted to Buenos Aires, where the grim past of the dirty war and present tumult provide a rich backdrop...Literary visitors may want to seek out longer looks after these brief exposures to the city's many layers."
"As editor Mallo says, Buenos Aires is a city 'in love with its own disorder.' These 14 sly tales amply attest to that affection. Murder most foul, the star attraction of almost any good noir, makes several appearances here...Mallo's well-balanced collection gives readers a glimpse of both the geography of Buenos Aires and its heart."
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. With Buenos Aires Noir, the Noir Series dives deeper into Latin America, into a city with a long history, both glorious and disturbing.
Brand-new stories by: Inés Garland, Inés Fernández Moreno, Ariel Magnus, Alejandro Parisi, Pablo De Santis, Verónica Abdala, Alejandro Soifer, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Ernesto Mallo, Enzo Maqueira, Elsa Osorio, Leandro Ávalos Blacha, Claudia Piñeiro, and María Inés Krimer.
From the introduction by Ernesto Mallo:
Buenos Aires: city of contrasts, contradictions; always on the edge of chaos; in love with its own disorder despite the crude, transitory violence, the lack of law and order, the ubiquitously hurled insult, the thunderous boom of traffic, and honking, hurled curses. Its inhabitants love/hate the city. In the language of the port-dwellers, irony is currency. The multimillionaires of Puerto Madero deal in this irony with as fluently as the workers in the "misery cities," which is what we call the poorest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. This shared language comes from the mansions and the shanties that are built side by side, separate by nothing but a single street or railroad trackcontradiction within eyesight.
In the stories that make up this volume we glimpse what Buenos Aires really is: distinctive points of view, as well as the narrative potential of a city that has reinvented itself many times over. This collection highlights the relations between the social and economic classesfrom their tensions, from their cruelties, and also from their love. Deep inside, inhabitants of Buenos Aires live this contradiction.
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On the Edge of Chaos
Translated by John Washington & John Granger
Buenos Aires is such an improbable city that it had to be founded twice. The first time, Pedro de Mendoza invested all the money he had stolen during the sacking of Rome to mount an extravagant expedition. He had hoped to discover a plant, supposedly growing in the Indies, that could cure his syphilis. The crusade was a disaster, thwarted by Alonso de Cabrera, who sold all their provisions to the highest bidder. When the settlers felt hunger, and the Querandí natives tightened a noose around their necks, they started supplementing their diet with boots, belts, and even some of their companions. Many of the two thousand men in that first expedition went on to other destinies; the two hundred or so who remained — and somehow survived the horrible conditions — had to be rescued.
Later, to defend against pirates, the city was founded again as a fort and a customs office that imposed tight restrictions on trade as riches from the Potosí silver mine were whisked away on La Plata River. The inhabitants of the new Buenos Aires watched as boats loaded with slaves captured in West Africa sailed up the muddy water on the way to the mines, and boats loaded down with silver and other precious metals sailed back downriver from Potosí. The commerce immediately attracted smugglers, and in just a few years, Buenos Aires was supporting a robust illegal market with the usual crimes and criminals that accompany the endeavors of smugglers and city officials. The city soon overtook both Asunción and Lima in economic and strategic importance.
These shaky and troubled beginnings have left their marks on the character and temperament of Buenos Aires. Its inhabitants display the mischief found on the edges of the law, the rush of a passing reflection, and a surprising capacity to adapt to new situations.
The distinctive music of the city is the tango, the sensual dance par excellence — originally from the Candombe dance of African slaves, and later developed in brothels and bordellos.
It is sex turned into song.
Like all great cities, Buenos Aires is no stranger to unpredictable and disordered spurts of immigration, with people from all over the world coming in search of a better life, mixing in with the locals into the underground hierarchy: from the stickup man to the bank robber, from the drug trafficker to the white-collar swindler. Here the señorones live with the peons, the crème with the riffraff. The city is, as Enrique Santos Discépolo's tango describes, an antique stall with jumbled piles of old and forgotten objects.
Stravinsky and Don Bosco hand in hand with La Mignon,
Don Chico and Napoleon,
Carnera and San Martín.
As through the dirty windows of the pawnshops:
life itself, jumbled,
and the Bible that cries on the hook beside the boiler ...
Buenos Aires: city of contrasts, contradictions; always on the edge of chaos; in love with its own disorder despite the crude, transitory violence, the lack of law and order, the ubiquitously hurled insult, the thunderous boom of traffic, and honking, hurled curses. Its inhabitants love/hate the city. In the language of the port-dwellers, irony is currency. The multimillionaires of Puerto Madero deal in this irony as fluently as the workers in the "misery cities," which is what we call the poorest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. This shared language comes from the mansions and the shanties that are built side by side, separated by nothing but a single street or railroad track — contradiction within eyesight.
In the stories that make up this volume we glimpse what Buenos Aires really is: distinctive points of view, as well as the narrative potential of a city that has reinvented itself many times over. This collection highlights the relations between the social and economic classes — from their tensions, from their cruelties, and also from their love. Deep inside, inhabitants of Buenos Aires live this contradiction.
André Malraux called Buenos Aires the capital of an empire that never existed. This empire, which never existed historically, which was never a conquering force or a military or economic powerhouse, exists in the strength of its literature, born of necessity — born of the precarious nature of its politics and economy — and born of its irreverent capacity to survive.
Ernesto Mallo Buenos Aires, Argentina August 2017(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Buenos Aires Noir"
Copyright © 2017 Akashic Books.
Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
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Table of ContentsTable of Contents
Part I: How to Get Away With…
“The Dead Wife” by Inés Garland (Belgrano R)
“Crochet” by Inés Fernández Moreno (Parque Chas)
“Ex Officio” by Ariel Magnus (Balvanera)
“Fury of the Worm” by Alejandro Parisi (Mataderos)
Part II: Crimes? Or Misdemeanors?
“A Face in the Crowd” by Pablo De Santis (Caballito)
“Orange Is a Pretty Color” by Verónica Abdala (Chacarita)
“Chameleon and the Lions” by Alejandro Soifer (Palermo)
Part III: Imperfect Crimes
“The Golden Eleventh” by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Barrio Parque)
“Eternal Love” by Ernesto Mallo (Barrio 11)
“You’ve Spoken My Name” by Enzo Maqueira (Almagro)
“Three Rooms and a Patio” by Elsa Osorio (Núñez)
Part IV: Revenge
“The Excluded” by Leandro Ávalos Blacha (Recoleta)
“Death and the Canoe” by Claudia Piñeiro (San Telmo)
“Feel the Burn” by María Inés Krimer (Monte Castro)