I recently read a strange and disturbing little book. I tend to be attracted to strange and disturbing books, little or othersized. This one, however, I’m not entirely sure about. It’s called Senselessness, and it’s written by Horacio Castellanos Moya. How could I resist a 142-page novella with glowing blurbs from Roberto Bolaño (author of the widely acclaimed 2666) and Russell Banks, the former evoking Buster Keaton and the latter referencing Franz Kafka? Here’s the synopsis from the flyleaf (yes, this paperback edition has an actual flyleaf! It’s akin to finding a triangular vent window on a new car!):
An alcoholic, atheist, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to edit the testimonies of the survivors of slaughtered Indian villages. The writer’s job is to tidy up the 1,100 page report: “that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger.” Mesmerized by the eerie poetry of the Indians’ phrases, the increasingly agitated and frightened writer is endangered twice over: by the spell exerted over his somewhat tenuous sanity by the strangely beautiful heart-rending voices, and by real danger. The Church is hunting the military, but the military is still in charge of the country, and our booze-soaked writer is soon among the hunted – or is he paranoid? Or is he paranoid and one of the hunted?