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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Regarding Roderer

Guillermo Martínez

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To purchase Regarding Roderer

Title: Regarding Roderer
Author: Guillermo Martínez
Genre: Novel
Written: 1992 (Eng. 1994)
Length: 90 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Regarding Roderer - US
Acerca de Roderer - US
Regarding Roderer - UK
Regarding Roderer - Canada
  • Spanish title: Acerca de Roderer
  • Translated by Laura Dail

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Our Assessment:

B- : aims high, but doesn't have the wherewithal to pull it through

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The American edition of Regarding Roderer calls it 'A Novel about Genius' on the cover, by which the title-character, Gustavo Roderer, is meant. The narrator is also a smart lad, but Roderer is in a different, rarefied league. They first meet at the local club in Puente Viejo where chess is played, and in that first game the narrator gets some idea of what he's up against.
       But Roderer isn't really a threat. He lives entirely in a world of his own, attending the local school for a few months but then not bothering any more -- and even when he is in class, not participating, sunk instead in is own books. "Our Louis Lambert", one of the teachers calls him. Eventually he withdraws almost completely, desperate just to ... think. Oblivious to the world around him, he leaves some casualties in his wake, while the narrator is the only person who becomes something like a friend, able to discuss at least some of what obsesses Roderer.
       The narrator begins to find his way in the world, ambitiously jumping ahead to university, finding a taste and flair for mathematics, eventually having an opportunity to go to England to study there. And he shares some his maths knowledge with Roderer, who is looking for nothing less than a whole philosophy.
       From early on Roderer is impatient: "I don't have time" is his complaint and excuse. Ultimately, of course, it turns out that he's right -- but it feels almost like a cheap trick, how Martínez (and when) thwarts him in the end.
       There are some decent bits in Regarding Roderer, including that narrator's sisters devotion to the genius, and his own account of outgrowing his hometown and his family is of some interest (though there's nowhere near enough of this). But as is, this feels like a strongly autobiographically-based story by someone desperate to author a piece of fiction, with some decent grand ideas (the whole genius-bit, and overarching philosophies) but without anything approaching the ability to shape a real, solid novel out of this material. There's some talent here, but ultimately Regarding Roderer feels practically pointless.

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Reviews: Other books by Guillermo Martínez under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentinian author Guillermo Martínez was born in 1962. He teaches mathematics at the University of Buenos Aires.

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