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Savage Theories

2.83  ·  Rating details ·  591 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Rosa Ostreech, a pseudonym for the novel's beautiful but self-conscious narrator, carries around a trilingual edition of Aristotle's Metaphysics, struggles with her thesis on violence and culture, sleeps with a bourgeois former guerrilla, and pursues her elderly professor with a highly charged blend of eroticism and desperation. Elsewhere on campus, Pabst and Kamtchowsky t ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 12th 2017 by Soho Press (first published 2008)
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2.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  591 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Katia N
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The Spanish word for mirror, espejo, shares a root with the word species; the mirror shows each species for what it is, and lays bare the shoddy reasoning that has led each to think itself unique.”

I enjoyed this book enormously. But it might be not everyone’s cup of tea. Broadly speaking, the book is an intellectual satire, devoted to the ideas and the lifestyle of “the generation of lead”. These are the children of contemporaries and survivors of the Dirty War in Argentina in mid 70s of the la
switterbug (Betsey)
I’ve read numerous novels that took place during or subsequent to the Dirty War in Argentina--the tragedy of the Disappeared, and the drama of state-sponsored terrorism that affected human values and morale, not to mention the physical danger inherent to anyone who didn’t capitulate. So I wasn’t expecting this sui generis author that wrote of the sons and daughters of the survivors, mostly in Buenos Aires, using satire, but with poignancy. Oloixarac’s unconventional and picaresque novel centers ...more
Jan 23, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed and renewed this one 3 times and didn't read a page. I have requested it again and its on hold.

Update 19 Feb. I have borrowed this again and it's reaching its renewal limit. I just read 2 chapters and have no idea what's going on? Frankenstein? I'm bailing as it's clearly not something I can read for another 270 pages.
No stars.
“A man with a theory is someone who has something to shout.”

Savage Theories is a complex novel with storylines intersecting around themes involving human evolution, the rise of culture through war and violence and the utility of sex. Anthropological studies, philosophical discourse and cameos by past literary and political world figures are woven into the mix of this deep thought-provoking satire.

There are two central storylines: one of a young academic and her infatuation with her professo
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
i draw your attention to these delightful domestic vignettes, the intimate nucleus of my abstract bestial affections, in order to make more tangible the drastic transformation that the following pages hold. as preface to the horror, suffice it to say that the waters of this tranquil pond rose up in fraught crests as if driven by sirocco winds; that the most profound spirituality was transformed into a hurricane. kind reader: this is not a tale of obsession. my private tragedy, which shouldn't b
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't really know how many stars to give this. (Okay, let's say four. It's unique, that's for sure.) Sometimes I laughed out loud. Sometimes I was left scratching my head. Sometimes I was just bowled over by the depth and breadth of culture, both high and low, that Oloixarac has at her fingertips.

There are two stories here. One is about Kamtchowsky and Pabst, a couple of overeducated, slovenly nerds, who hook up in an erotic, drug fueled quartet with a physically beautiful couple, Mara and And
Alison Hardtmann
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-book
Writing a brief description of the plot of Savage Theories is to miss most of what goes on in this odd book that spends most of its time going off on tangents and assuming the reader is a lot more knowledgeable than this particular reader is. Basically, there are two stories; a young woman stalks her professor while justifying it in all sorts of philosophical ways, which hides the creepiness somewhat and; two teenage friends, who believe themselves to be physically repulsive, negotiate their soc ...more
Emily Roberts
I really liked this. It's totally original, funny, witty and sharp. It actually depicts, in a very accurate way, society (Buenos Aires may well be Madrid) and the interactions between human individuals. How it's all connected to seduction, but in fact it's only narcisism, the need to feel loved and to love in that selfish way, all the theory about being attracted to the beast, about the duality from being hunted to become the hunted, or maybe both at the same time (which is what we really are wh ...more
Roy Kesey
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb and strange short novel by perhaps the best of Argentina's rising stars. Oloixarac invents an entire anthropology to explain us to ourselves, from the first humanoid to decline to be defined as prey to the coolest of Google Maps hacks. I will have a great deal more to be saying about this book in the months to come. For now, my translation of the better part of the first three chapters can be read, along with Maxine Swann's introduction to the novel, in Issue 15 (Winter/Spring 2013) of ...more
Bob Lopez
I’m giving up approximately 50 pages from the end. No rating.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Are some books untranslatable? Perhaps, and if so, this is one of them. It may be a powerful book about the aftermath of the Dirty Wars in Argentinian Spanish but it is so much overly pretentious claptrap in English. The glimpses of humor saved this from being a one, but reading it was an endurance test even though it was only a couple of hundred pages long. There are no characters, no plot, and no point. It's like reading someone's bad senior thesis, if senior theses had slightly nauseating sex ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it

One word review - obnoxious.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
The blurb from Hari Kunzru on the front of the paperback edition I read called this book “maximalist” , I totally agree with that label . There are layer and layers of detail to be discovered and unearthed Savage Theories. In that respect, it reminded me of David Foster Wallace, though I have only read Infinite Jest as a comparison. What I understood of Savage Theories was in parts funny, in parts erudite, in parts absurd and in parts downright disturbing.

I think I “got” maybe only a 10th of th
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oloixarac crafted a novel so steeped in structuralism it reads as almost parody. If it werent for her melding of impressive erudition with subtle hilarity, this would have been so much a chore. I'm undecided if she's skewering academia or that which it tries to explain, but she does so with comedian's touch all the while abutting said jokes against Argentina's 'Disappeared'...Even when the prose is bogged down with psychology and philosophy jargon Oloixarac's sharp wit and comedy offers redempti ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
probably the worst book i've ever listened to.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I gave it 50 pages but I couldn't do it.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this one because it is a finalist in this year‘s Tournament of Books. I can’t say I enjoyed any part of this novel. In fact, it was a fairly miserable reading experience from start to finish for me. Clearly, I am out of line with all of the critics, who universally love and admire this book. I can say that I respect the book… It’s density, it’s unique voice, and it’s willingness to challenge conventions. I’m glad the book exists, and it probably did me some good to read it, but I wouldn’t ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect that the author is quite brilliant. The book is so dry and intellectual, and I'm sure much of the humor went over my head. Academic life, philosophy, Argentinian history and politics. And sex. All ripe for satire. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. It did not activate me. I did appreciate the translator's note, basically telling me it's not his fault that I didn't get it. This is so beyond you even if you could read it in the original Spanish.
Maureen T Hart
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a blast

Savage theories has the same madcap, dizzying energy as bolano Savage Detectives. What a ride! Every paragraph takes you someplace you've never been before.
Read this book.

Bill Brydon
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Latinx spec fiction dredging the horrors

"How to assign a date to the birth of fear? How to explain humanity’s obsession with fighting both the beast within, and the enemy within the beast?"
Ben Bush
Jul 29, 2017 added it
Shelves: read-in-2017
You'd be hard pressed to read something else like this. Ideas are described with a physical force. Remorseless, funny. Strong sentences that collide bodies with critical theory.
2,5 stars. The three story lines were difficult to follow for me, but the writing style was really enjoyable for me. I read a French translation and I even though it is my 3rd language, I really found it suitable, especially after reading in reviews that the English translation was not so good.
I did not understand everything, but it was clear that the writer did her research and made a wonderful effort to write in a "nerdy" (semi-academic) way. It was an enjoyable read, a bit harsh sometimes an
JP Hakala
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Check out for more reviews. This review was completed after reading 76 pages of Savage Theories.

The Reason for the Reaping: In the Tournament of Books, Savage Theories met its demise in the play-in round of campus novels. Savage Theories and Stephen Florida lost to The Idiot.

The Great Comparisons: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, An Instance of the Fingerpost

As I Lay Summarizing: Kamtchowsky and Pabst are ugly college students and lovers in Argentina. There are othe
Jack Duff
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Don't read this if you want a break from academic jargon and heavy prose; DO read this if you want to see academic jargon and heavy prose simultaneously skewered and used beautifully.

That being said, I found myself trudging through the two academic plots for more of the counter-culture picaresque stuff. The long digressions into chatroom/blog culture, video game development, and the structure of the internet were some of the most engaging (and cleverly thematic) pieces. When this plotline disap
Ryan Fields
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library, tob-2018
This is less a review and more an apology for the 2-Star rating. I’m really not sure what I just read. There were moments that I enjoyed, that I laughed at, or that I felt like I understood. But as a whole, the book went over my head. For someone who has little experience with Argentina’s geographical and political history, the book’s dependence on physical setting left me feeling like I was on the outside of a long inside story/joke. Also, books like this (heady and lacking plot or character de ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting and darkly funny commentary on the relationship of predator and prey; presented not only through the plot, but through slightly skewed philosophy, politics art, cultural, history, and of course, sex. Set against the backdrop of post-Dirty War Argentina, this book challenged me, fascinated me, disgusted me, and completely drew me in with every turn. This is a book I strongly wish I could have read in the native Spanish. The translation was a truly valiant effort, but I am con ...more
Manic and dizzying, only not in a good way. This book is far to cerebral for its own good, for I must admit I often couldn't quite follow the various themes. I did like parts of it - and perhaps I am hampered by an ignorance of the Dirty War years - but overall it was exhausting to read and I was thrilled to be done. It's possible that if I read it again, it might resonate a bit more, but I am unlikely to give it a second chance.

It is saved from a one star rating by an admirable characterization
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
OK. I give up.

I got through all but 3 hours of the audiobook, and decided that I just didn't care about any of it. I'm giving it 2 stars because there were some truly entertaining parts to it, especially revolving around Pabst and Kamchowshy's sexual exploits and trouble, but ultimately that didn't sustain me.

I don't have enough of a background in philosophy to understand a lot of what the characters are talking about, and the whole thing was extremely overwritten. I stopped actively listening
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wild read. I'm almost not sure what to rate it. Savage Theories is barely anchored to the ground, fleeing at a moment's notice from the tactile surround of its characters, catapulting itself into the blue oblivion of its narrator's interiority and theory-gazing. It is brilliant, and it is alienating. Its juxtaposition of millennial libidinal ennui with Argentina's history of dictatorial violence is beguiling and discomforting, but I think this may be what makes it essential. It is interes ...more
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Pola Oloixarac (Buenos Aires, 13 de septiembre de 1977) es una escritora y traductora argentina. Estudió Filosofía en la Universidad de Buenos Aires y ha publicado artículos sobre arte y tecnología en medios como The Telegraph, The New York Times International, Folha de Sao Paulo, Página 12, Revista Quimera, Etiqueta Negra, Qué Leer, Revista Alfa, América Economía y Brando.
Su primera novela es Las
“All war is based in deception (cfr. Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”).

Definition of deception: “The practice of deliberately making somebody believe things that are not true. An act, a trick or device entended to deceive somebody”.

Thus, all war is based in metaphor.

All war necessarily perfects itself in poetry.

Poetry (since indefinable) is the sense of seduction.

Therefore, all war is the storytelling of seduction, and seduction is the nature of war.”
“Pues tu teoría se queda incompleta sin mí.” 10 likes
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