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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Sergio Bizzio

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To purchase Rage

Title: Rage
Author: Sergio Bizzio
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 219 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Rage - US
Rabia - US
Rage - UK
Rage - Canada
Rage - France
  • Spanish title: Rabia
  • Translated by Amanda Hopkinson
  • Rabia was made into a film in 2009, directed by Sebastián Cordero

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Our Assessment:

B : clever idea, not fully taken advantage of

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 13/6/2009 Laura Wilson
The Independent . 21/8/2009 Boyd Tonkin

  From the Reviews:
  • "As an extended metaphor for the decline of a social class, the mistreatment of the have-nots and the resentment that this brings in its wake, it's fairly cumbersome and, because we don't have much sense of the world outside the house, occasionally baffling." - Laura Wilson, The Guardian

  • "(I)nner demons count for more than social critique as Bizzio shuns easy showdowns and delves into the attic of a disturbed mind." - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

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:

       Rage centers around José María, a forty year old construction worker, and Rosa, a twenty-five year old maid. They have an affair. One day, after José María is sacked after an argument with his foreman, he comes around to the house where she works; when her employers, Señor and Señora Blinder, come home, he only pretends to leave but actually sneaks upstairs and holes up there: it's a vast house, with many unusued rooms and overlooked corners. And he really holes up there: without anyone, even Rosa, knowing he simply stays there, only sneaking down for food and sometimes spying on the household.
       The foreman was murdered, and José María is the prime suspect, so he has good reason for staying out of sight, but he doesn't dare reveal his whereabouts to anyone, even Rosa. He's in it for the long haul, too: he makes himself (relatively) comfortable, and his hidden stay eventually extends for years. It's a different kind of life he lives there, but he has what he needs to get by -- though cut off from the outside world he has little sense of what happens beyond these four walls.
       José María keeps an eye on Rosa, but doesn't dare interfere much. Her employers aren't too hard on her, but one worthless son who comes to visit acts out of line, and at that point -- or at least later, when he can act unnoticed -- José María takes matters into his own hands. Rosa eventually appears to start a relationship with someone, and this leads José María to feel compelled to act again, too. Not much of a guardian angel, he can at least be a vengeful one .....
       When he discovers there is more than one telephone line in the house José María takes to occasionally calling Rosa, carefully trying to hide his whereabouts. It's an odd short/long-distance relationship they keep up, but each, in their way remains devoted to the other.
       José María is an unusual outcast-character: completely left to his own devices, he lives almost like on an island. There are others nearby, but there is no interaction between him and them; he must always try to avoid them -- even as he can't help but watch over them. Life goes on entirely without him -- only a rat is a companion of sorts, an animal in a similar position as he is.
       Bizzio does quite a good job of describing José María's isolated life, from how he wanders around completely naked (when it's warm enough), to the hardships he faces when the household is on vacation, leaving him with practically no food to steal. José María lives outside history and outside society (and even outside this small household community, limited to the snatches of conversation he overhears and events he spies), and for the most part he is helpless, unable to act when it could matter (and setting things right in the only way he knows how -- enraged overreactions which nevertheless have practically no consequences).
       Isolated José María makes for an interesting character, and Bizzio sustains interest in his fate for the duration, but isn't able to do quite enough with the material and premise. One remains curious enough to see where things go (and what happened), but the payoff isn't ever quite big or haunting enough; ultimately Rage falls a bit short as both social (class) allegory and psychological thriller (with Bizzio vacillating between the two, unable to make up his mind exactly what he wants the book to be).

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 November 2009

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Rage: Reviews: Rabia - the film: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentinean author Sergio Bizzio was born in 1956.

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