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Tres vidas secretas/ Three Secret Lives

Tres vidas secretas/ Three Secret Lives

by Reialdo Laddage

Editorial Reviews


The author of several essays on Latin American literature, Laddaga (romance languages, Univ. of Pennsylvania; b. Argentina, 1963) here compiles the biographies of John D. Rockefeller, Walt Disney, and Osama bin Laden in an attempt to explain (as the back cover says) the current "decadence and exhaustion of the American extreme right." Although presented as nonfiction, the short biographies include some fictionalized passages mixed in with well-known facts. Rockefeller's and Disney's pages are filled with ominous signs. For instance, Rockefeller is called Lohn to associate him with actor Lon Chaney's portrayal of a crippled criminal in the film The Penalty, Disney is raised in a Midwest town where he witnesses maddening scenes of cattle heading to the slaughterhouse, and both American tycoons suffer feverish nightmares during their triumphant years. By contrast, bin Laden's biography is largely matter-of-fact: Laddaga's account of the formation of Al Qaeda reads like a poor rehash of Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower. While Rockefeller's and Disney's stories go on well beyond their lifetimes, bin Laden's ends during his pre-9/11 Taliban years in Afghanistan, portraying him as a bee farmer. Overall, instead of presenting a deep analysis or searching for responses, the author seems to rejoice in elusive allegories occasionally combined with sweeping indictments. "But we know what he thinks," says the narrator referring to Rockefeller, "his commercial plans are intertwined with his religious plans like two kinds of weed growing in the same territory." The author's merit is in his search for new ways of echoing an old adagio extensively repeated by Latin Americanintellectuals: American capitalism is greedy and immoral. However, its half-baked ideas, erratic style, and cynical associations hardly make the case, turning a flimsy book into a laborious, unsatisfying read.-Carlos Rodríguez Martorell, East Elmhurst, NY

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Adriana Hidalgo Editora S.A.
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