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Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Pub Date:

Senselessness
Translated by Katherine Silver
Horacio Castellanos Moya

New Directions
5/29/08
Trade Paperback/142 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8112-1707-1
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"The serious tone masks a tongue in cheek sarcasm . . ."

Senselessness : Paranoia, pathos and destruction in a bizarre tale of a journalist turned copy editor.

”I am not complete in the mind”, begins the journalist who has been paid to edit a five hundred page report on atrocities committed during a series of massacres seventeen years before. It is the first gem of the poetry of the oppressed to be collected in the journalist’s notebook. This sentence dominates his unstable mind as he slogs through the one thousand one hundred page report that he has been paid too little and given too little time to edit. He finds solace in a bar a mere two hundred feet from where he works in the bishop’s office in the archdiocese’s palace. The pages of poetry among the senseless violence disturb him, and he slowly unravels.

Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya is a mystical tour through the mundane and obsessive mind of a journalist who is more preoccupied with sex and alcohol than the job he has been paid to do. By dwelling repeatedly on the one thousand one hundred pages of the report, Moya defines the journalist’s personality. The narrative weaves erratically but always returns to the one thousand one hundred pages as the journalist wanders further and further from his goal and becomes more and more paranoid, seeing danger, his mutilation and death everywhere.

The journalist’s feelings of being undervalued in the beginning give way to a faux pas that at first seems innocent and then downright ludicrous. The serious tone masks a tongue in cheek sarcasm that is comic and underlaid with a darker dissonance. It makes Senselessness a wonderfully complex story in Moya’s capable and artful hands. Horacio Castellanos Moya’s writing is witty and provocative, rife with intricacy and deftly handled humor, and never telegraphs the power of the punch line ending.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell