Savage theories

Pola Oloixarac

Book - 2017

"A student at the Buenos Aires School of Philosophy attempts to put her life (academically and romantically) in the service of a professor whose nearly forgotten theories of violence she plans to popularize and radicalize--against his wishes. Meanwhile, a young couple--a documentary filmmaker and a blogger--engage in a series of cerebral and sexual misadventures. In a novel crammed with philosophy, group sex, revolutionary politics, and a fighting fish named Yorick, Oloixarac leads her char...acters and the reader through dazzling and digressive intellectual byways to an Internet hack that confronts us with a catalog of historical violence, devastation, and atrocity throughout the centuries. Spellbinding, strange, groundbreaking, and already translated into several languages, Savage Theories is the debut of a major new voice on the world stage"--

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : Soho Press 2017.
Language
English
Spanish
Physical Description
291 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781616957353
1616957352
Main Author
Pola Oloixarac (author)
Other Authors
Roy Kesey (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In this dazzling, frantic tour de force, Argentine author Oloixarac traces several intertwining threads. Rosa Ostreech distracts herself from completing her convoluted thesis by attempting to seduce an aging professor. Portly Kamtchowsky and her lover, Pabst, engage in pornographic high jinks, and a Dutch anthropologist works on a theory about human evolution rooted in the predatory practices of our primate ancestors. Oloixarac's suspiciously cagey narrator, sounding like an aggressively witty intellectual, and who has no problem divulging explicit sexual details, doesn't so much weave together as assemble into a pastiche these competing story lines. She also manages to resurrect ghosts from Argentina's Dirty War and dive headfirst into the twenty-first century's strange technological frontier. Though the novel is daunting in substance and structure, with a wide range of cultural references from Aristotle and Leibniz to Elton John and Jenna Jameson, readers willing to indulge this careening carousel of a novel will be rewarded with an unexpectedly prescient experience. In spite of its first publication in Spanish in 2008, Oloixarac's tale proves timely in light of Argentina's recurrent political turnover. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In her black comedy pastiche, Argentine essayist and journalist Oloixarac develops two story lines. In the first, Kamtchowsky and Pabst, a pair of unattractive young adults involved in drugs, orgies, and social media, develop a video game with the help of some geeky friends that hacks Google Earth. In the second thread, which develops the theme of intergenerational conflict, the pseudonymous narrator stalks a University of Buenos Aires professor whose incredible anthropological theory she aims to correct. Overlaying the minimalist plots and characters are digressions on anthropology and political philosophy in a text saturated with polysyllabic phrasing and distracting references to popular music, movies, television and social media. The translator footnoted 15 of the most obscure ones (mostly those referring to Argentine culture), but numerous others will pass by many readers as they question their purpose. Ultimately, Oloixarac's intentional pretentiousness satirizes the academic research community, with the "savage theories" of the title becoming manifest in various ways as objects of prey turn into predators. VERDICT Though the inclusion of blogs, video games, and viral videos into mainstream literature is appealing, it's not enough to offset the recondite style and pseudointellectual pose.—Lawrence Olszewski, North Central State Coll., Mansfield, OH. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Acclaimed in Argentina when it was first released, Oloixarac's brilliant, dextrous debut novel is a twisty tale of academia, lust, and culture. At its core are three narratives, two of which take place in the present: the adventures of young Kamtchowsky and her boyfriend, Pabst, as they sift their way through the Buenos Aires music, drug, pornography, and video game scenes; and the pursuit of the novel's narrator, known only as Rosa Ostreech, as she tries to draw the attention of her older professor (by seducing another man), also in Buenos Aires. The third story line begins in 1917 and focuses on a Dutch anthropologist—and later his disciples—as he explores a theory that ties human civilization and behavior to the violence seen in our primate ancestors. These ambitious narrative threads overlap, yet characters disappear for long stretches, making their stories unfold in fits and starts, which may frustrate some. However, the author's ability to incorporate diverse elements, including 1970s Argentinian sex comedies, early 20th-century psychological theory, Elton John, and Thomas Hobbes singing in bed, makes for a singular and humorous experience. Perhaps best of all is Oloixarac's prose: discursive, surprising, and off-kilter—like the characters themselves, it reveals a ceaseless appetite for understanding and belonging. (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A student at the Buenos Aires School of Philosophy attempts to put her life (academically and romantically) in the service of a professor whose nearly forgotten theories of violence she plans to popularize and radicalize--against his wishes. Meanwhile, a young couple--a documentary filmmaker and a blogger--engage in a series of cerebral and sexual misadventures. In a novel crammed with philosophy, group sex, revolutionary politics, and a fighting fish named Yorick, Oloixarac leads her characters and thereader through dazzling and digressive intellectual byways to an Internet hack that confronts us with a catalog of historical violence, devastation, and atrocity throughout the centuries. Spellbinding, strange, groundbreaking, and already translated intoseveral languages, Savage Theories is the debut of a major new voice on the world stage"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A Buenos Aires student pursues an elderly professor and works on her thesis on violence and culture, while young couple Pabst and Kamtchowsky delve into the undergound scene of Buenos Aires.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Two parallel stories take place on a college campus in Argentina, in one an attractive young woman tries to find herself while having risky sex with random strangers while another young woman attempts to seduce a professor to prove a theory on violence.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"A stunning vibrant maximalist whirlwind of a novel. Oloixarac’s wit and ambition are evident on every page. By comparison, most other contemporary fiction seems a little dull and simple-minded." —Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears and Gods Without MenA debut novel of seduction and madness, hate and love, set in the world of Argentine academia and animated by the spirits of Wittgenstein, Rousseau, Nabokov and Bolaño 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 tour the underground scene of Buenos Aires, dabbling in ketamine, group sex, video games, and hacking. And in Africa in 1917, a Dutch anthropologist named Johan van Vliet begins work on a theory that explains human consciousness and civilization by reference to our early primate ancestors—animals, who, in the process of becoming human, spent thousands of years as prey.Savage Theories wryly explores fear and violence, war and sex, eroticism and philosophy. Its complex and flawed characters grapple with a mess of impossible, visionary theories, searching for their place in our fragmented digital world.