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Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter Paperback – July 24, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; Reprint edition (July 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1771000368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1771000369
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Revolution equals “terror. Paranoia.” So writes Aguirre as she tells the story of her family’s escape from Chile and the 1975 Pinochet-led coup and her growing up with other exiled underground revolutionaries in Canada. In 1979, “The Year of the Return,” they relocated to La Paz, which her skillful descriptions bring to life: “Every thief in Bolivia was here . . . to rip people’s pockets and purses open . . . and were robbing everybody: skin-kneed believers, nuns.” And the plaza with “the bustle of beggars, office workers and businessmen, and Indian women selling dried-up llama fetuses and kiosks displaying beautiful cards of carved bronze and wood and silver.” There the exiled family leads double lives while assisting Chilean blacklisted politicians and other resistors “from the concentration camps with their scars and broken bodies.” With Chile still under Pinochet’s brutal reign, Aguirre flees to Vancouver in 1989, the revolution lost. A stirring account of a revolutionary’s girlhood. --Whitney Scott

Review

"In a voice that rings beautifully and heartbreakingly true--filled with tenderness, confidence, vulnerability, compassion, fear, and courage--Something Fierce movingly renders the normal difficulties and pleasures of adolescence as they collide with the urgent sacrifices and consequences of clandestine political struggle. Only a real writer could do justice to such a remarkable story, and Carmen Aguirre proves up to the task at every turn--an overwhelming and inspiring read."—Casey O'Neil, Elliott Bay Book Company

"Aguirre’s riveting memoir chronicles her childhood as the daughter of Chilean resistance fighters. …Aguirre’s writing is splendid; she combines black humor and a sharp intellect and tells her powerful story in grand style."—Publishers Weekly

"Most of her youthful revolutionary acts, from bringing down the mighty to plotting to assassinate Augusto Pinochet, did not come to fruition, but Aguirre is usually funny and self-deprecating rather than rueful or repentant."—Kirkus REviews

"A moving, heart-racing journey through the political landscape of South America during the 70s and 80s told by a brave daughter of the Chilean resistance. An inspiration to anyone who strives to live a life of passion and purpose." —Camilla Gibb, author of Sweetness in the Belly

"Aguirre's story is the personal experience of a brave young woman...Something Fierce is raw, courageously honest and funny; an insightful journey into the formation of a revolutionary soul." —The Globe and Mail

"A coming-of-age story that blends birthday parties and puppy love with indoctrination in the tradecraft of subversion: how to arrange the delivery of secret documents, how to lose a police tail, how to lead a double life." —Toronto Star

"Carmen writes like someone who knows how it feels to exhale with no certainty that another breath will follow...The stories that fill this book feel like the stories of several lives, not the adventurous, exhilarating and harrowing adolescence and early adulthood of one extraordinary person." —National Post

"[Aguirre] has crafted a narrative packed with suspense, emotion, and dollops of sardonic humour. Even better, her searing memoir conveys the confusion and heartache of adolescence alongside the violent upheavals of Latin America during the late 1970s...Never polemical or self-pitying, Aguirre has written a crisp, dramatic account of growing up under extraordinary circumstances." —Quill & Quire

"Aguirre's writing is, indeed, something fierce. That she has finally told this story is a triumph. This extraordinary book is four texts in one: a hilarious, pelvis-rocking story of a young girl on an impassioned journey into womanhood, a harrowing testament to the physical and mental labours involved in underground revolutionary work, a history of a Latin America ravaged by dictatorship and neoliberal economics, and a deeply loving memoir of a family."—Karen Connelly, author of The Lizard Cage and The Dream of a Thousand Lives

"a brutally honest and wryly funny story, told through the eyes of a girl young enough to yearn for cork-soled platforms and steal kisses with boys." —Georgia Straight

More About the Author

Carmen Aguirre is a Vancouver-based theatre artist who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written and co-written twenty-one plays, including Chile Con Carne, The Trigger, The Refugee Hotel, and Blue Box. Her first non-fiction book, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, was published in 2011 by Douglas & McIntyre in Canada and Granta/Portobello in the United Kingdom and is now available in Finland and Holland, in translation. Something Fierce was nominated for British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, the international Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, was a finalist for the 2012 BC Book Prize, was selected by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, and the National Post as one of the best books of 2011, was named Book of the Week by BBC Radio in the United Kingdom, won CBC Canada Reads 2012, and is a number-one national bestseller. Aguirre has more than sixty film, TV, and stage acting credits, is a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop facilitator, and an instructor in the acting department at Vancouver Film School. She received the Union of B.C. Performers 2011 Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award, the 2012 Langara College Outstanding Alumnae Award, and has been nominated for the Jessie Richardson Theatre Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award, and the prestigious Siminovitch Prize. Aguirre is a graduate of Studio 58.

Customer Reviews

There were too many unanswered questions for me.
Brigette Furlonger
This first-hand story of growing up in the Chilean resistance after the Pinochet coup is riveting and revealing.
Don Sawyer
Not infallibly but at great cost and with great courage.
kschmitt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
After the Chilean coup in 1973, Something Fierce author Carmen Aguirre and her family were forced to flee. Due to an agreement between Augusto Pinochet and Pierre Trudeau in which the Canadian Prime Minister (p 6) "agreed to offer asylum to Chilean refugees," the Aguirres became "one of the first Chilean refugee families to arrive" in Canada. Her memoirs begin in June of 1979 with the family, consisting of the then 11-year-old Carmen, her 10-year-old sister Ale, their mother (also named Carmen), and her stepfather, Bob, at LAX. The girls learn they are headed to La Paz, Bolivia, where, in response to the Return Plan, their parents plan to take part in the resistance. While many members of the resistance sent their children off to (p 100) "to live with Cuban families who'd volunteered to raise them or with grandparents somewhere else," "As far as [Ale and Carmen's mother] was concerned, a woman shouldn't have to choose between motherhood and revolution. She wanted both," so she kept her daughters close. Ms. Aguirre's mother proclaims (p 7), "To be in the resistance is a matter of life and death. To say the wrong thing to the wrong person is a matter of life and death," thus the family is forced to live a cautious, dual life, in which they try to fit in and avoid calling attention to themselves. As such, they rub elbows and break bread with both supporters and opponents of the movement.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By kschmitt on May 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
SOMETHING FIERCE: MEMOIRS OF A REVOLUTIONARY DAUGHTER
by Carmen Aguirre

Review by Kathleen Schmitt

Darkly comic? That's the description of the book given by, I think, the publisher. Yes, there are some funny parts. Life without humor is sort of like life without breathing, and the more extreme the conditions, the more likely some humor will erupt. But humor is not the main point of Something Fierce. This is a book of passionate anger against violent crimes and the will to give everything to stop them. What makes the book so compelling is that our protagonist is so young and so vulnerable.

Carmen Aguirre, along with her mother, step-father, and sister, led a double life, first as a child of revolutionaries, and later as a revolutionary herself, from the time she was eleven years old. The story she reveals in this memoir is one that every thoughtful person should read, because we know so little of what the resistance and the sacrifice of Latin Americans has been in their quest over the last century to gain independence from a succession of imperial forces, the latest and longest being the United States of America with its commercial dominance.

Curiously, we see that the blatant inhumanity of Latin American leaders trained by the School of the Americas (USA) in techniques of ruthless oppression, destruction and torture has persuaded many citizens of those countries to turn against extreme capitalism, especially in its newest form, "The New Economic Order," or neo-liberalism. Of great importance to the story is that the local dictators in these countries never could have succeeded in creating such nightmarish conditions for the people without the military and financial aid of the USA.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brigette Furlonger on April 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although this book was a facinating read, I was disappointed by the end. Throughout the book, Carmen discribes her relationship with family. Unfortunately, she doesn't continue with her relationship with her parents. I felt like I was hanging, wondering what had happened between Carmen and her mother in particular. I would have liked a final chapter describing her closest relationships and what happened to those people. There were too many unanswered questions for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joe Reader on October 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
New insight into a world I did not have a whole bunch of knowledge, revealed itself in this book. Although it did not cover a topic I embrace, the life of the children involved in this dishevelled journey was worth the read .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Don Sawyer on January 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This first-hand story of growing up in the Chilean resistance after the Pinochet coup is riveting and revealing. It is utterly unlike anything I have read before, political without becoming polemical, deeply personal but movingly human. There is no room here for the cynicism or distancing prevalent in too many autobiographies and first-person accounts of events. This is raw, moving and almost excruciatingly honest. No wonder it won last year's Canada Reads award. Read this not only to better understand the savagery of the CIA-backed Pinochet coup and its aftermath,but to also understand the motivation, dedication and sacrifices of those committed to combating tyranny not only in Chile, but in nations around the globe.
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