The Neruda Case
Cayetano Brule is unemployed with a marriage in crisis but still determined to live his own life, no longer being dictated to by his wife, whose passion is really military socialism. The man Cayetano is about to meet would be proud of his decision. Pablo Neruda, Nobel-winning poet, is dying but seeks out Cayetano for a mysterious mission, to find an oncologist who supposedly lives in Mexico. Cayetano Brule accepts the task, which turns him into an international spy, one who follows an ever-changing trail to Mexico, Cuba, Germany, Trinidad, and back to Chile. But Chile, like the Neruda Cayetano has come to understand well, is about to undergo its own radical death. For Salvador Allende’s reign as President of Chile is about to violently end with the Pinochet coup in the 1970s.
All of the women in this story, including Neruda’s past loves, have a stormy, secretive role in revolutionary politics in all of the countries to which Cayetano travels. In between the story about the detective’s search depicted in each chapter are pages in which the great poet writes of the graphic passion he knew with each woman, followed by the gradual death of that love, usually fueled by politics. This is the story of a poet whose life perfectly parallels the changing political life of Chile. Its beauty lies in the complex motives, actions, and conversations that plot the course of those seeking to politically live like Neruda’s passionate verses and which evolve into his confusion and despair. Ampuero’s story is well-researched, comprehensive, and well-written about the many levels of poetry and politics in Pablo Neruda’s world.