The Death of Che Guevara
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In his critically acclaimed epic first novel, Jay Cantor, author of Krazy Kat and Great Neck, draws on history, myth, and his own prodigious imagination to take on the life and death of revolutionary icon Che Guevara.
In his now famous progress through modern times, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the scion of a liberal Argentine family, abandoned a medical career to become a revolutionary. A fiery comrade of Fidel Castro’s who joined him in overthrowing the Cuban government of Baptista, Che later broke with Castro to lead a guerrilla movement in Bolivia. As the novel charts Che’s bold evolution, it also offers an incisive look at Latin America’s revolutionary struggles, an exploration of the nature of truth and storytelling, and a brilliant exegesis of the psychology of radical activisim.
“Not prisoners,” Walter said, omitting as he often now did the noncrucial parts of his sentences. “Volunteers. Young Communists. Didn’t you see the women?” He was undoubtedly telling the truth. Only the ornate fiction, the wordy picaresque, had ever interested him. And he didn’t tell stories anymore. “Well, appearances are deceiving,” I said, sententiously, wondering what that made of my aphorism about prisons. I went in to my work, my writing, my self-criticism. On the way I reached into
curse us forever. The old man spat on the floor, in the dirt. The worm, El Medico explained in his musical voice, can’t stand the medicine. It would come out through the boy’s mouth. Which it did. El Medico pulled it gently, several meters of long white flat flesh the texture of rubber, jointed in segments, streaked with the boy’s blood and bile. The women screamed at this obscene vision. The boy lost consciousness, and the women instantly became silent. El Medico said that he had only
too, until the reports of their losses began to come on the radio, and we couldn’t tell ourselves that anymore. At first the army was amazed—how could we strike at them from so many different places? They couldn’t imagine that we had separated into two groups. But the division made us weak, and it trapped Tania, our contact with the city. Watching Joaquin and Che talk together in the field of tall grass, I had thought that this was a minor tactical decision, leaving the sick with Joaquin, giving
haven’t killed guerrillas. This I can assure you, because only a couple of days ago I was in communication with Joaquin.” This time I gasped. Such was my faith in Che and in the golden valor of his word that I believed him, and wondered at first why he hadn’t told us before, and which of the peasants had brought him the message. But then I realized the truth. Che had lied. “You do not die,” the candid young teacher said, “because you have magic that protects you.” “Yes,” Che said, and the
part of a family, a profession. These circumstances, and not one’s own wishes, determine to the last detail our conduct. If one does this there is purity and clarity, not the muck and chaos of “personality.” (Imagine, please, a provincial acting company making up its own lines, each actor doing what he wants, deciding to walk off perhaps during another’s farewell speech!) It is like focusing a lens. Before the lens (the self) is focused, nothing is clear; the lens calls attention to itself. But