Author: Fedosy Santaella
- Editorial Pre-Textos
- ISBN: 9788416453283
- Release Date: 01-01-2015
-Reviewed by: Danielle Maxson
The story begins in Chirimena, Venezuela, a small town on the northern coast known mainly for its beaches. On one of these beaches, the two main characters, Arturo and Mariana, go for a walk together after smoking marijuana and find a human finger washed up on the beach. Arturo, influenced by the drugs in his system, picks up the finger and stores it in his backpack. With no evidence of any kind to tell him where – or who – the finger came from, he decides that perhaps it was the finger of American filmmaker David Lynch.
Readers, at least in the US, may expect the discovery to kick off a mystery story in which Arturo plays a plucky amateur sleuth who uncovers a gruesome crime and deliver justice on behalf of the finger’s owner. Instead, Arturo takes the finger to the apartment he shares with Mariana, sticks it in the refrigerator, and takes no further action. From time to time the finger makes an appearance in the plot; Arturo thinks about it momentarily, or the narrator mentions that the finger is still in Arturo’s backpack or apartment. In one fraught moment, Arturo mentions the finger to someone else, then panics and buries it to prevent it being linked to him. For the most part, the finger exists in the world of the novel as subtext, teasing the reader with its absence. Rather than focus on this odd artifact as the driver of the plot, Santaella explores the forces that brought Arturo, Mariana, and a host of other characters to that beach in the first place.
To do so, he has divided the novel into three sections, each comprised of several short chapters. The first section, “Arturo, Mariana, el circo,” (Arturo, Mariana, the circus) describes how Arturo and Mariana met, became circus performers together, and eventually traveled to Chirimena. This portion of the book also serves to introduce a host of colorful characters inhabiting the town, including the Sergeant, a former police officer from Caracas, and Marcano, a local bar owner and drug dealer who takes a liking to Arturo and Mariana, including them in a group he calls Los Elegidos (the Elect, or the Chosen Ones). The second section, “El padre, el hijo, la muerte” (The father, the son, death) introduces a second plotline that reads almost like a script for a road movie. A retired police officer who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer travels with his adult son to Chirimena so the father can die there, on his own terms, rather than wait for the cancer to claim him. In the third section of the book, “El Sargento, Marcano, el caballo” (The Sergeant, Marcano, the horse) Santaella allows the two plotlines to intertwine, giving readers a chance to examine the variety of connections that human beings can build between themselves. He also explores the way those connections can influence what we choose to do – or not to do.
The city-country dichotomy drawn between Caracas and Chirimena will introduce readers to Venezuela, a country and culture which most Americans are unlikely to know well.
El dedo de David Lynch is an intriguing combination of mystery, dark humor, road movie, and love story.