Alfredo Carranza walks into a building he’s familiar with. He goes in unnoticed and makes his way to the roof. The deaths—the four deaths—weigh heavily on him. But it’s the death of the child that disturbs him the most, “I knew that day that I would kill him. That it would fall to me. We all knew it.” A rain had swept through the city and as he stood on the ledge willing himself to jump off, his legs would not move. He reached into his overcoat,s pocket, pulled out a pistol, pressed the barrel to his temple, and “then his hand accomplished what his legs had refused to do.” Thus begins “The Fragility of Bodies” by Sergio Ogluín and translated by Miranda France (Bitter Lemon Press).
Ogluín tells the story of Verónica Rosenthal, a thirty year-old writer for a successful magazine in Buenos Aires, and her investigation into the crimes of Carranza and his subsequent death. Like other good crime novels, “The Fragility of Bodies” is more than catching the bad guy, it’s about character–the investigation is the map that guides Rosenthal, but it is her soul (for lack of a better word) that concerns the reader. Like any young person, Rosenthal thinks herself impervious to the events and lives that surround her, but all of that’s going to change.
When reading “The Fragility of Bodies”, one cannot escape that they are reading a book which goes against the instincts of most North American readers, the written word should almost be invisible. This feeling of being immersed in words works with Ogluín’s novel. The reader journeys into Rosenthal’s life and thoughts which become inseparable from the sentences within.The translation by France is usually unobtrusive, but when needed, France has the ability to remind the reader that we are turning the pages of the written word.
Ogluín’s “The Fragility of Bodies” is a thriller but it’s pace isn’t frantic, rather we delve into the characters and watch them swim among the pages.