WINTER QUARTERS by Osvaldo Soriano
Translated by Nick Caistor
Two men arrive by train to the small Argentinian village of Colonia Vela. Rocha is a hulking behemoth, a former champion of the boxing ring. Anders Galvin cuts a much slighter figure, a tango singer of once great renown. Still clinging to former glories they are, in reality, pretty washed up. They’ve come for the town’s annual festival, showpieces in a dastardly plot by the town big shot, Aguila, to glorify the country’s regime. They will each face a “local” star. And, if Aguila has anything to do with it, fail. Except they refuse. And, anyway, Rocha has fallen for Aguila’s daughter.
Narrated by Galvan in a hilariously choleric voice, Winter Quarters is, on its surface, a buddy story where two clueless out-of-towners must run the gauntlet of a place hell-bent on their destruction. It’s full of action packed set pieces (the boxing match climax is extraordinary) and over-the-top characters. But behind its Chandleresque facade lies a biting satire of Argentina’s dirty war where heroic defiance happens to come in the guise of brazen stupidity and pig-headedness. A lost classic deserving of a new life.
Winter Quarters by Osvaldo Soriano (Tr. Nick Caistor)
Readers International, 1989 (First published 1982)