Bad Times in Buenos Aires
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Bad Times in Buenos Aires

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A funny and poignant account of life in Buenos Aires, by a young prize-winning writer.
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Published September 5th 2002 by Not Avail (first published February 23rd 1998)
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Jul 07, 2010 Henry rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
I havent really got words to say how much i didnt like this book. It appears that the writer was seriously unhappy at the time of writing but this is never made overt it just seeps through the writing and poisons the book. As someone who has lived in Buenos Aires for more than a year her portrayal is boldly inaccurate and shallow. I generally want a travel writer who is witty engaging insightful bold and open minded. France is none of these things and worse she is pinched, complaining, reactiona...more
Michal Leon
Nov 20, 2009 Michal Leon rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: peope who are interested in all aspects of Bs As
I must say that I found this book terribly flawed by being dominated by what seems to have been the author's mood at the time. Perhaps Times were that Bad then, in the nineties, when she was here. Certainly, Buenos Aires, where I now reside, has many problems. But it is a vibrant, interesting, full of culture and history, place and the caricature Miranda France depicted is just that: a caricature. The story about deaths in elevators, to pick out just one example, is untrue and absurd. Yes, there...more
"Bronca" is to B.A. what "angst" is to Germany, but after reading this book, you will prefer to go to Germany rather than B.A.
This is a book I saw in my local library, so I took it out without checking it out in advance. It was entertaining, but Miranda France presented a very partial view of Buenos Aires as a city of disaffected upper middle-class obsessed with their appearance. That could be because she didn't spend much time talking to anyone else. Sbhe was a fairly depressed young woman who was attracted to other fairly depressed young women. The main exception seemed to be a gravedigger named Hugo at Recoleta Ceme...more
Blurb on the cover calls it a "travel book" but I would not.
It gives you a lot of political and social history of Buenos Aires, and the country in general, but in a very personalized way -- through the mouths of people she talks to or interviews [for writing articles as a foreign correspondent] -- , so it's a good read.
She puts herself right near the middle of the narrative, and conveys her feelings of oppression, frustration, amazement, wonder...

I really didn't know much of anything about t...more
dianne budd
This was a fun read - lots of good info that jived with what i know of this geographically confused, gorgeously pathetic (like a Victorian consumptive) city. i think she should have left off the last chapter on "going home". It was sort of gratuitous and sappy. i don't know if it's true that one remembers the final note of a symphony and carries that home - but i wonder in Miranda's case if that sad little last chapter made folks forget the rest of the book when they rated it.
Caroline Winter
For everyone criticising the author for being down on BA when she wrote the book, I would urge them to read the title - it was about bad times. The clue is in the title.

The important background is that the author went to BA after a life long interest in BA and Argentina, she didn't set out for times to be bad she simply captured the mood she encountered. I found this a great starting book on BA and am now reading other books on Eva Peron and the Dirty War that I may not have read if I had not s...more
Camille Cusumano
Well-written and researched. Didn't affect my decision to see Buenos Aires one way or the other. I was already going as a freelance journalist but one who writes about food, travel, and, as it turned out, tango. These "chapters" were stories written for newspapers, hence they have a certain clipped verve, and tight focus. They are not deeply probing, but are nonetheless illuminating and enjoyable. I enjoyed France's wry humor even when I think it was a bit caricatural. I tried my darnedest to fi...more
Contrary to most, the author's inability to fit into Argentine society did not detract from the book's worth, in my opinion.

What makes it better than your average travel guide is France aims to get at the heart of something approaching the Argentine "character".

Perhaps it's just me, but I would rather read about perennial queues of desperate citizens in a disreputable republic than about the best places to get your freak on any day...

OVERALL: recommended for travelers
This book could have been subtitled: A Dreadful time in Buenos Aires. While there were some really interesting parts to this book, especially around the Disappeared, the Falklands War and Eva Peron, but mostly it appears the author was either depressed or hated BA. I didn't particularly like it, but maundered my way through it as I am going to BA soon, and it gave me a good run down on the history.
Funny, mordant, tongue-in-cheek and at times (not always) quite accurate description of 1990s life in Buenos Aires (before the financial crash & the enormous influx of foreigners and tourists who've since rushed out there) that's worth reading. France is a very good writer.
Extremely boring book
Aug 09, 2007 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Armchair travelers, biography fans
A nice series of 10 stories (travelogue), and an award-winner, this is a humorous look into the lives of the residents of Buenos Aires, their persistent unhappiness (bronca), and a history of the 20th century, Peronism, and the dirty war. Very good.
While listed as "one of the best travel books in recent years" by The Times, I found it more of a collection of esays on the polical life of the country. While I have been there severak times it was rigth on in its scope.
Martin macor
There isn't much competition for travel memoirs of Buenos Aires, but this one has the best reputation of any thus far. Loaded with interesting (and depressing) facts about Argentine history and culture.
Alex Klaushofer
An almost anti-travel book, chronicling the author's increasing disaffection with Argentina. And all the more revealing for that. Beautifully written.
I read it before I moved to Buenos Aires. The city is incredible. One gets a good idea of the culture from this book.
Cherie Magnus
An 1998 eye-opener about the realities of life in BsAs from a professional London journalist.
Newspaper contributor moves to B.A. shortly after the economic collapse. Very good.
Interesting travel narrative from a time bait before my first trip there.
Jul 28, 2007 Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has spent time in Buenos Aires
Hilariously spot-on in her assessment of Porteños and all of their craziness.
Dreary depressing and enough to put anyone off ever going to BA.
Mar 06, 2007 kelly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone going to Buenos Aires
a must-read before you go, or if you're just fascinated by Argentina
She tells and tells the manifold things she hates about Buenos Aires until you finally realize that she loves Buenos Aires. (This wouldn't be hard to miss if you've put up a resistance to her.) Wonderfully sketched anecdotes. I've never read any book that any more inclines me to visit a place.
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