Swallowing Stones: A Novel

3.75 avg rating
( 36 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060781040: Swallowing Stones: A Novel

Lisa St Aubin de Terán's Swallowing Stones is a fictionalized account of the extraordinary life of one Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, code-named Otto -- adviser to Castro, confidant of Salvador Allende, and sharp thorn in the sides of both the CIA and the KGB. In the riveting and remarkable invented memoirs of the legendary seventy-year-old revolutionary scholar, the explosive history of twentieth-century Latin America unfolds before us -- viewed through the sharp, unflinching eyes of a uniquely indomitable character as he progresses, through consequence and fateful accident, from philosophy student to guerrilla fighter, political activist, and outlaw.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lisa St Aubin de Terán is the award-winning author of several novels and has also published a volume of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a memoir, The Hacienda, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the founder and managing director of the Teran Foundation, a charitable organization that works to establish schools and farm projects in the north of Mozambique. She lives in Amsterdam.

From The Washington Post:

"Cancer is a wonderful thing." So begins this spirited fictional recreation of the life of Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, a Venezuelan revolutionary, intellectual and sometime bank robber. Chastened by the discovery of a malignant tumor in his throat -- a cruel twist of fate for an "inveterate talker" -- Barreto (codename "Otto") decides to look back on his life, make a tally of gains and losses and dismantle the myths about him (no, he did not deflower the virgins in the towns he liberated). Half picaresque tale and half history lesson, the narrative often reads like a Who's Who of the radical left-wing movements of the second half of the 20th century. From Ben Bella to Fidel Castro, from Che Guevara to Salvador Allende, many of the leading revolutionaries of our time put in an appearance.

The fourth of 10 children, Otto was born in 1934 to a conservative, middle-class family in San Cristóbal, a small town in the Andean region of Venezuela. Although he always regarded himself as a "puny wimp," by the time he reaches his late teens, his distaste for authoritarianism and his flair for inflammatory speeches force him to go into exile. Settling in Paris, he falls in love with Vida, a beautiful Persian aristocrat who later spends 20 years in jail for opposing the shah of Iran, her best friend's husband. Otto lives in Algiers during the chaotic early years of postcolonial rule, witnesses the Paris uprisings of the 1960s and serves as a close advisor to Castro.

After a decade of botched plans and misadventures, Otto's dream of taking the revolution to Venezuela finally comes to fruition. But with his frail physique and scholarly bent, "el profe" -- the professor, as he is nicknamed by his companions in war -- makes an unlikely guerrilla fighter. Deep inside the Venezuelan jungle, while the others clean their weapons or argue about tactics, Otto studies the insects that make his days a living hell.

Once the fledgling insurrection fails -- one cannot emancipate peasants who don't want to be emancipated -- Otto again has to flee his homeland. A few years later, in Chile, he barely survives the coup against Allende's left-leaning government. Tired of wandering from one hotspot to the next, he eventually returns to Venezuela, where he is jailed and tortured. Luckily, his life is spared, thanks to one of his country's most powerful men, the publishing magnate (and novelist) Miguel Otero Silva, with whose daughter Otto had a child. (Puny but priapic, Otto spends much of his time making love, not war.)

In melancholy counterpoint to Otto's exploits are his ruminations on the random, unpredictable course of his life. If he had found out earlier about Stalin's labor camps, he says, he would never have become a communist. If he had not met Vida, he would have moved to Germany and studied philosophy under Heidegger. If he had not been in France during the Algerian riots, he would not have joined the armed struggle against imperialism. "If, if, if, and again: things just happened." In his old age, Otto realizes that his political struggles were mostly in vain. "I didn't achieve much good -- I spent a long time getting nowhere."

Since testimonial narratives like this one rely on the reader's curiosity about the facts in the fiction, one wonders how much the character portrayed here as Otto resembles the flesh-and-blood Barreto Miliani, who is very much alive and still writing. Did he really mastermind the biggest bank heist in Venezuelan history? Is it true that the first time he met Castro, the Cuban caudillo talked non-stop for nine hours, putting everyone but Otto to sleep? Did he warn Allende, a friend from his Paris days, about the impending coup? Otto, the narrator, insists that everything in this account is true. Indeed, were this "only" a novel, much of it would be superfluous, sometimes tedious reportage. And yet, in her prefatory note, St. Aubin de Terán -- who was once married to Otto's cousin -- warns that she has taken "diabolical liberties" with her subject's "real life."

Nabokovian tease or reality-TV hokeyness? Probably both, unfortunately. However impressive St. Aubin de Terán's gift for ventriloquism, one comes to the end of her novel wishing that Barreto Miliani had recounted his stranger-than-fiction life entirely in his own devilish words.

Reviewed by Gustavo Perez-Firmat
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

St Aubin De Teran, Lisa
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2006. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.47
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.03
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

St Aubin De Teran, Lisa
Published by Harper Perennial 1/3/2006 (2006)
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Paperback or Softback Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
BargainBookStores
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Perennial 1/3/2006, 2006. Paperback or Softback. Book Condition: New. Swallowing Stones. Book. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
10.98
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

St. Aubin de Teran, Lisa
Published by Harper Perennial
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Mediaoutlet12345
(Springfield, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Perennial. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0060781041 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # SWATI2132261646

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.01
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.03
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Lisa St Aubin De Teran
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States (2006)
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Harper Perennia.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lisa St Aubin de Teran s Swallowing Stones is a fictionalized account of the extraordinary life of one Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, code-named Otto -- adviser to Castro, confidant of Salvador Allende, and sharp thorn in the sides of both the CIA and the KGB. In the riveting and remarkable invented memoirs of the legendary seventy-year-old revolutionary scholar, the explosive history of twentieth-century Latin America unfolds before us -- viewed through the sharp, unflinching eyes of a uniquely indomitable character as he progresses, through consequence and fateful accident, from philosophy student to guerrilla fighter, political activist, and outlaw. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.18
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

St. Aubin de Teran, Lisa
Published by Harper Perennial (2006)
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Paperback Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Perennial, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # 0060781041

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.82
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 1.51
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Lisa St Aubin De Teran
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States (2006)
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Harper Perennia.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lisa St Aubin de Teran s Swallowing Stones is a fictionalized account of the extraordinary life of one Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, code-named Otto -- adviser to Castro, confidant of Salvador Allende, and sharp thorn in the sides of both the CIA and the KGB. In the riveting and remarkable invented memoirs of the legendary seventy-year-old revolutionary scholar, the explosive history of twentieth-century Latin America unfolds before us -- viewed through the sharp, unflinching eyes of a uniquely indomitable character as he progresses, through consequence and fateful accident, from philosophy student to guerrilla fighter, political activist, and outlaw. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.89
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

St. Aubin de Teran, Lisa
Published by Harper Perennial
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Perennial. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0060781041. Bookseller Inventory # Z0060781041ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
12.07
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

St. Aubin de Teran, Lisa
Published by Harper Perennial
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Lakeside Books
(Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Perennial. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0060781041 BRAND NEW, GIFT QUALITY! NOT OVERSTOCKS OR MARKED UP REMAINDERS! DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER!|0.97. Bookseller Inventory # OTF-Y-9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.26
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.03
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Published by Harper Perennial
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Paperback Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
BuySomeBooks
(Las Vegas, NV, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Perennial. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 528 pages. Dimensions: 7.8in. x 5.3in. x 1.4in.Lisa St Aubin de Terns Swallowing Stones is a fictionalized account of the extraordinary life of one Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, code-named Otto -- adviser to Castro, confidant of Salvador Allende, and sharp thorn in the sides of both the CIA and the KGB. In the riveting and remarkable invented memoirs of the legendary seventy-year-old revolutionary scholar, the explosive history of twentieth-century Latin America unfolds before us -- viewed through the sharp, unflinching eyes of a uniquely indomitable character as he progresses, through consequence and fateful accident, from philosophy student to guerrilla fighter, political activist, and outlaw. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
14.07
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Lisa St Aubin De Teran
ISBN 10: 0060781041 ISBN 13: 9780060781040
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Grand Eagle Retail
(Wilmington, DE, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. Lisa St Aubin de Teran's "Swallowing Stones" is a fictionalized account of the extraordinary life of one Oswaldo Barreto Miliani, code-named Otto ? adviser to Castro, .Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 512 pages. 0.440. Bookseller Inventory # 9780060781040

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
14.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book