Juan José Saer’s Scars opens and closes with the murder of a woman referred to only as La Gringa on May Day of an unknown year. We know that her deathJuan José Saer’s Scars opens and closes with the murder of a woman referred to only as La Gringa on May Day of an unknown year. We know that her death was intentionally caused by her husband, but what we don’t know is why. Told by the way of four uniquely different stories featuring characters that overlap from one tale to the next, the novel doesn’t attempt to wrap things up in a nice neat bow for the reader. Oh no, that would be far too easy. Scars, much like life, is a beautifully messy affair.
The first chapter which is titled “February , March, April, May, June” introduces readers to seventeen year old Ángel. He’s a young man who works for a newspaper writing weather reports. His job mostly boils down to guess work and fabrication and the bulk of the time he’s content with copying and submitting the previous day’s report for publication. He lives alone with his mother, a thirty-seven year old woman that he sees as a bit of an alcoholic and a whore. Needless to say the two don’t get along very well. Ángel’s best friend Tomatis also works at the paper as a writer and the boy has strange ties to a judge named Ernesto López Garay. It’s the later of these relationships that help him get a seat at the inquest of the murderer at the center of the novel’s key plot, but the former that perhaps causes him the most grief in the long run.