The Sound of Things Falling byJuan Gabriel Vasquez (288pp)

Juan Gabriel Vasquez will draw comparisons to other major Latin American icons. But while the influence of Roberto Bolaño, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Gabriel García Márquez are present throughout his second novel, The Sound of Things Falling, he is a unique literary talent. Translated from Spanish (and exceptionally well, at that), Vasquez moves swiftly and subtly, opening in Bogota, Colombia, reflecting on the mid-’70s when the country was being taken over by drug lords and cartels (fueled by the U.S.’s hunger for cocaine). Law professor Antonio Yammara finds his fate intertwined with that of a shady ex-pilot named Laverde. But Things Falling is so much more than a drug story. This is a sensory novel. Antonio wrestles with the way he interprets by his surroundings, by how the external world affects the internal. “[I]t’s always disconcerting to discover, when it’s another person who brings us the revelation, the slight or complete lack of control we have over our own experience.” The Sound of Things Falling does so much at once: it’s a novel about how the U.S. dangerously influences Latin America, how the present never escapes the past, and how fragile our relationships--romantic and familial--can be. 

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  • Tod M.

    Good meetup, discussion, people, and location. Well done by all and a special thanks to Peter.

    February 27, 2014

  • David S.

    What a great discussion! Peter's response to my question about what does Antonio do after the last few pages of the book. Some said he would return to his wife. Some said he would return to Maya. Peter speculated he would do nothing and remain alone. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Peter is not the point: his comments caused people to think. Everyone had great comments; many shared quotes which sparked even more member dialogue. I rated the book three stars; the group, 10 stars.

    February 27, 2014

  • Rosanne J.

    Enjoyed the book and hearing everyone's input was extra special

    February 26, 2014

  • Peter

    Everybody enjoyed the book but most of the group had some issues with it.

    February 26, 2014

  • Susan G.

    I loved the book and the dual themes he skillfully blended. Very good discussion.

    February 26, 2014

  • Jennifer D.

    can't make this one, hope to make the next.

    February 25, 2014

  • Tiff D.

    I'm liking the book but alas I am moving this day!

    February 17, 2014

  • Mary M.

    Outstanding prose, nuanced. I enjoy how the author lets the reader make inferences and conclusions, as well as how Juan Gabriel Vasquez withholds some of the answers and requires the reader to wonder or guess. That is how life is. A novel does not have to disclose a tidy answer for every question that can arise. Life certainly does not. Looking forward to the discussion on the 26th.

    1 · February 21, 2014

  • Polly

    Sad to say I'll be out of town at a conference, and unable to attend.

    February 4, 2014

  • Lynn A.

    Sorry to miss but it is Mardi Gras! See you in March.

    January 30, 2014

  • Mary M.

    The last few sessions I've attended, I have had difficulty getting a chance to make comments. I've been attending on and off, and like the group. I feel I have a timing problem. I attended the Sutton discussion (had surgery on my knee and am good to go now so that's why the gap is there) and accidentally talked over someone I liked a lot. He just pointed out he had more to say, and I was able to apologize privately later, which made me feel better. There was another speaker who was long-winded, and I really couldn't figure a way to get my comments in. I could use some coaching here--I don't want to refine my skills of apology, which are important to have ready to use; I just want to be able to contribute without offending anyone's sense that he or she wasn't allowed to finish a thought. I suppose I've attended about 7 meetings, and this has not been a problem every time. I respect my interlocutors and want them to know it.

    January 30, 2014

    • Peter

      Hi Mary, Many thanks for your comments which are much appreciated. It is always difficult in a large group to make sure that everybody has a chance too speak. I do try to keep things open but I must confess I don't always succeed. I think, to make things easier and simpler in future, I will utilize a couple of tools to try to ease things along. Firstly, we need to try to avoid "off-topic" discussions and, should these occur, I'll just use a "time out" signal and move the conversation on to someone else. Equally, if somebody's talking for what seems like an unreasonably long time (something I have to admit to being guilty of myself!), I'll raise a single finger (in a nice way!( which will mean only time for one more sentence. I hope this will help!

      1 · January 30, 2014

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We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

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