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I just finished reading Daniel Alarcon’s “Lost City Radio”. I blazed through it in a matter of days, though I probably should have finished it earlier than I did.

I picked up this book because I found Alarcon’s name listed among Wikipedia’s page of famous Peruvian authors and artists. Alarcon, though born in Lima, actually grew up in Birmingham, Alabama since he was three. I wonder if this fact undermines his writing on Peru or Latin American issues since his personal history lies rooted in the US. Nevertheless, we live in times where borders and nationalities blur more easily and national distinctions are becoming more and more artificial – what makes an American an “American”? What makes a Chinese person actually Chinese? Who gives a @(#*$^?

Although the book evoked emotion and empathy from me, its reporter-like style of writing did not agree with me. Alarcon paints beautiful images and captures sentimental details that evoke an internal smile from me at times, but for the most part I found his style boring, dry, and not creative enough. It reads like a New York Times article, which, although everyone loves and treats as manna from heaven, I find boring and too pedantic in its fancy verbiage. That’s just me though. I have no evidence to back my claims.

All is not lost, however, I actually really appreciated some of his abrupt scene changes. Alarcon jumps from scene to scene, sometimes zipping through 2 or 3 different flashbacks on a single page without prompting the reader. These hyper jumps has the potential to frustrate readers since the method disrupts the natural flow of traditional reading, but I felt the flashbacks were not too difficult to digest.

I wish I had copied down some passages that I found eloquent or poignant, but I never did. I usually jot down some nice quotes from books that I enjoy to keep for future reference, but, I guess this book didn’t have enough to compel me to draw out a pen and paper.


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