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The Sound of Things Falling: A Novel Hardcover – August 1, 2013
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Set in Bogota, Colombia, our narrator, Antonio, becomes twinned to an enigmatic and shadowy ex-pilot named Ricardo Laverde, whom he meets in a Bogota billiard hall. Ricardo has been imprisoned for many years for reasons that take time to be revealed. (The refrain is: "He must have done something.") Antonio is with Ricardo during a drive-by motorbike shooting that ends one life and destroys the other.
What follows is one of the most harrowing descriptions of PTSD I've read as Antonio lives in terror of everything. The only salvation for him is to uncover the facts behind the life of the mysterious "ghosted" Ricardo and Colombia's ignoble past.
That is only the early foundation of this book. It touches on many themes: the tentacles of the drug business in Colombia and how one person's actions can have a boomerang effect on so many others. How it feels to live with a "terrible awareness of my vulnerability" - where planes fall from the sky, where bullets fell the innocent, where memories burst out of nowhere to transform and paralyze those who live through it.Read more ›
There's a lot going for THINGS FALLING: lush prose, a rich backstory, and a truly interesting subject matter. However, instead of getting lost in the prose, the reader often hits a brick wall--a points, this feels more like thinly-disguised journalism. It's as though Vasquez either couldn't decide what to write (fiction or nonfiction), or chose to create a hybrid of the two. (Most likely, the latter.) While the idea is interesting, the book may have been better if the nonfiction accents were either toned down, or enhanced (i.e., a solid work of nonfiction). As is, this is a novel for some, but not all. Those who sink their teeth into it, however, will certainly come away with something worthwhile.
"Falling," as some people have referred to it in English, is the story of Antonio Yammara, a 29-year-old, university law professor in Bogotá, Colombia who has always excelled intellectually. His comfortable, carefree world is soon blown away. First, a former student turned lover announces she's pregnant and carrying his child. At the same time, Antonio, who plays billiards to unwind, has sort of befriended an enigmatic older player. Ricardo Laverde has shared a few intriguing bits of his life, mostly in a woozy state over drinks. One afternoon, as the men walk along a street after leaving the billiards hall, they become the targets of a drive-by motorcycle shooting. Ricardo is killed. Antonio is seriously wounded--physically and mentally. For Antonio, several years of PTSD follow and a long journey to discover the secrets of his acquaintance. The story covers some eighty years of real-life Colombian history and the personal lives of several generations of fictional families.
To fully appreciate "Falling," it helps to have some knowledge of Colombian history and culture and of the tremendous impact of the drug cartels over the last half century. If you don't have that, Wikipedia can pretty well fill in the gaps. In 2011, I spent a week in Bogotá. I visited bookstores and asked for current best-selling novels (in Spanish). I read two of three books I bought and the third one--most highly praised by the sales' assistant--languished in the "someday" pile. Guess what it was?Read more ›
The final minutes of Ricardo Laverde's life are about to have a profound effect on Antonio Yammara. As a young college instructor, Antonio's life is good. Or at least it's as good as it can be in the troubled South American city. He has a job he enjoys, a pleasant apartment, and the company of women when he wants it. But in the seconds it takes for Ricardo to die, Antonio's good fortune takes a devastating tumble.
Why did this happen? Antonio realizes that he has little idea of his friend Ricardo's past. With the intimacy of death weighing him down, Antonio embarks on a journey to understand, at least a little bit, how Ricardo ended up dying as he did. He travels not only physically, from Bogota, but from the present day into a long-ago time, when Pablo Escobar ruled the drug trade. But could his friend really have been involved in that dark, twisted and violent part of society? Antonio finds it hard to believe.
Through research, talks with family members, letters --- really, everything he can dig up --- he turns Ricardo into a living, breathing soul once again. Antonio gets to know the man as he never had a chance to when he was alive. The people whose lives Ricardo touched, the people he left behind, even the people he hurt, all help Antonio work through his own personal demons. And he has many where once he had none.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Set in Columbia in the late 1990s, this book follows an ordinary young man living in Bogota whose life becomes accidentally and inextricably tied up with a mysterious man he met... Read morePublished 21 days ago by E
A well written story of things lost, found, then lost again. The question is whether the protagonist find again what he lost again.Published 1 month ago by Morris L. Greb
A rewarding read. Much to contemplate and learned so much and so well written, love it. Well translated.Published 1 month ago by Gail
I spent some time in the Candelaria area of Bogotá so that helped to set the place, but I really enjoyed this book. Original and rather unexpected how it unfolded. Read morePublished 1 month ago by SaraW
This book is full of gems of wisdom about time, people, fear, trauma, why we do the things we do, regret and more. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Helen M. Shepard
slightly disappointed. The story drags on and on and on...which the first 200 pages could be summarized into 40 (so it seems). Read morePublished 4 months ago by brian