Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Note on At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig

Lest anyone be confused at the title of this entry, my wife bought me this book entitled, At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig written by John Gimlette, and for awhile now, I have wanted to comment on it in this forum.

Mr. Gimlette subtitled his book, Travels through Paraguay, and it is essentially a discussion on his experiences in a country that is often described as an island surrounded by land. I have read nearly 1/3 of the book and have a few concerns. As an historian, Gimlette vividly describes the often schizophrenic nature of Paraguayan political history. As a journalist, he expertly interviews informants and experiences a great deal of elite Paraguayan social life. But at every turn of the page, he comes across as an outsider that treats his subjects as second-class citizens.

He experiences Asuncion, but only a very elitist portion of it. Having lived in Barrio Mburucuya, where the parties take place and the wealthy drive their Jaguars and Mercedes', I know his Asuncion exists, but to suggest that anyone else cares at all for those people, he is mistaken. The Asuncion I know cares deeply about their country and their guarani heritage. Yes, the average Paraguayan is politically conscious, and, yes, he probably does concern himself with the snaky undercurrent of Paraguayan government, but he is probably more concerned with feeding his family and watching Cerro battle Olimpia for the futbol championship.

I have found Gimlette's Asuncion to be interesting, but not grounded in normality. Yes, Madame Lynch rocked South America, but to most Paraguayans, Madame Lynch is the name of one of the roads. I know that I ought to read the entire book, maybe he will talk about the Paraguay I know, but right now his Asuncion is nothing but a suburb of Buenos Aires. The Argentines will find that humerous, but the Paraguayans find it disturbing.


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