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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Three Musketeers

Marcelo Birmajer

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To purchase Three Musketeers

Title: Three Musketeers
Author: Marcelo Birmajer
Genre: Novel
Written: 2001 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 211 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Three Musketeers - US
Tres mosqueteros - US
Three Musketeers - UK
Three Musketeers - Canada
Das argentinische Trio - Deutschland
  • Spanish title: Tres mosqueteros
  • Translated by Sharon Wood

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Our Assessment:

B : too loose in its mix of thriller, romance, and nostalgia

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 14/4/2004 Kersten Knipp
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 27/10/2004 Leopold Federmair
World Lit. Today . Spring/2002 Luis Larios Vendrell

  From the Reviews:
  • "In den besten seiner Szenen erreicht auch Birmajer eine beklemmende erzählerische Intensität. Leider läßt er sie immer wieder durch Mossens vulgäre Ausfälle zunichte werden. Der Druck der Politik hätte dem Roman Stoff genug gegeben. Von dem des Eros hätte Birmajer schweigen sollen." - Kersten Knipp, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Tres mosqueteros, contrary to so many other novels coming out of South America, does not present a mythological country, but rather the historical reality of Argentina. The setting, by and large, is the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires, which the reader gets to know very well without any concessions to imagination or dreams. It is a picture not particularly colored by admiration or love, simply reality deprived of any positive traits. The story takes place in the present, but the past returns to haunt the characters." - Luis Larios Vendrell, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Javier Mossen, age thirty-two and employed by a Buenos Aires newspaper, is about as unambitious as a journalist can get. If at all possible, he never wants to be near a story, and it's a wonder the paper keeps him on (though he doesn't seem to be in much danger of ever losing his job). But now his boss does have an assignment for him: pick up Elías Traúm from the airport and interview him.
       Traúm was the only one of the so-called 'Three Musketeers' left, a group of precocious young talents that had try to stir things up decades earlier with two of them getting themselves killed in the early 1980s. Traúm was a few years older than the other two, but he was part of the group; for years now he had lived in Israel.
       The main reason Mossen gets this assignment seems to be because he is Jewish, though he's hardly much of a believer. Soon enough, however, it turns out there might be considerably more of a story to all this, as Mossen isn't the only one waiting for Traúm at the airport. He gets shouldered out of the way, Traúm is hustled off, and next thing Mossen hears Traúm has been robbed, stripped, and deposited on the side of the road, almost like in the good old days in Argentina when anyone suspicious was in danger of being 'disappeared'.
       Rather than turn to the police, Mossen turns to the woman in his life -- Esther, who had booted him out for a sexual indiscretion. Mossen is still devoted to her, but she has a hard time forgiving him; his continuous dancing around her in an effort to keep her as part of his life (and possibly win her back) also continue throughout the novel.
       Traúm returns to his hotel, only half safe and half sound. Mossen is worried about their safety -- and it would appear with good reason. His boss also pulls him off the story -- "I thought it was one story and in fact it was another" -- and eventually wants him to hightail it out of town, offering him two tickets to a resort town he can write some puff piece about so he'll be out of the way. But Mossen actually risks his cushy job, at least to a small extent, by watching out for Traúm, slowly also learning some of what happened back when -- and the lingering aftereffects.
       The Three Musketeers is an odd mix: a thriller -- with sinister men trying to keep an eye on (and perhaps intending worse for) Traúm as well as Mossen, and lots of sneaking around and attempts at covert meetings -- coupled with a good deal of nostalgia mixing that of heady, youthful revolutionary days (those two other musketeers really were young prodigies) and Traúm's memories of an Argentina he long ago left behind (with an awful lot of discussion of where specific places -- bars and restaurants, etc. -- are, or now aren't). Then there's Mossen's love life, as he longs for Esther but, not surprisingly, doesn't find her all that easily won over by his talk. Mix in revolutionary (and other) politics and a big dose of religion (with a particular focus, of course, on Jewish identity), and a few surprises (such as the role Mossen's boss played way back when, and a woman from the Three Musketeers' past) and it become a novel that is rather awkwardly juggling just a bit too much.
       Perhaps greater familiarity with Argentinean politics might add to the enjoyment or understanding, but for the most part it seems to be the same old story just with different details -- "People who used to kidnap businessmen are now working for them", etc. could apply as readily to almost any other country, though the Jewish twist does narrow it down again.
       Three Musketeers does keep moving at a decent clip, and while Mossen is fairly hapless he's a modestly engaging narrator; still, it doesn't feel fully realized.

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Three Musketeers: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentinean author Marcelo Birmajer was born in 1966.

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© 2008-2021 the complete review

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