Fionnuala's Reviews > The Ministry of Special Cases

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
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Jan 04, 10

Read in December, 2009

A failure, but an interesting failure. Englander tries to pull off a tragicomedy about Argentina's Dirty War, and almost does it. Let down by a couple of overworked metaphors (the nose stuff gets a bit much), over-artsy descriptions (the falling general embodies every creative writing cliché) and some clunky authorial interventions (Englander doesn't need to tell us why he isn't revealing the content of the missing son's notes - the silence would have said so much more than his narratorial justification). Personally I was never convinced by the Argentine-ness of his setting, and the father-son relationship didn't ring true, and yet I read on, avidly, and thrilled to the delicacy of some of his descriptions and the pulsing moral purpose of the novel. Apparently his short stories are even better. Maybe I'll put away the genre prejudices of a lifetime and try them.
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