If you are going to read this novel, make time to do so. There is no point in starting and then going off to do something else, for when you come back you will probably have to start again.
Loquela is a novel that demands commitment and attention, and even those are not enough. It requires total engagement.
Characters morph, stories loop and intersect and then run off on a day trip to an imaginary city before coming back panting and asking: So what’s been happening?
A good question, because that is never really clear. What the main narrative and the sub-strands are are never defined. It is as much about storytelling, how real events, or seemingly real events, are transformed into fiction.
Like a literary alchemist Labbé concocts a mix of narrative, memory, a writer’s imagination, the creation of fiction and an ever shifting voices.
A writer, his girlfriend and family. The novel he is writing. Santiago de Chile. An imaginary city called Neutria. Albino girls. Memories of childhood.
Labbé stirs it all up, chants over it, tinkers with the mix and stirs a bit more. While what emerges is not exactly literary gold it is certainly not lead.
Pitching itself as a detective novel, it is never quite that. Perhaps in the sense that the reader is required to sift through the evidence presented and create a narrative? The reading becomes an experience.
The hooks are fragile, the plot an idea rather than a structure. This reader was constantly flicking back and forward to try and find some solid ground in the ever-shifting stream of perspectives and identities.
Not for the faint hearted and to be an honest a sense of relief when you get to the end. Time to make a coffee and then some more flicking to see if you missed anything.