On the final page of her novel A-B-Sudario, Jacinta Escudos lists the following dates and locations:

"Managua—San Salvador 1993—1995, 1997.
Langenbroich (Alemania), marzo—abril del 2000."

Likewise, the book's protagonist, La Cayetana, moves back and forth between fictionalized versions of San Salvador (Sanzívar) and Managua (Karma Town), while writing a novel she can't seem to finish. I keep returning to Roberto Bolaño's comments (in 2666) about the novel being able to encompass all forms of poetry. Escudos proves this is true.

A-B-Sudario can be read as a long poem in twelve chapters/cantos. La Cayetana echoes some of the author's own experiences but she is more than anything a poetic archetype: the figure of the writer attempting to compose a text. As in Rimbaud's Une Saison en Enfer, Escudos confronts the impossibility of separating body and text. There's no visionary breakthrough to be found in La Cayetana's struggles (although the verses and sentences in this book are visionary). La Cayetana always returns to the physical presence of the poem in daily living: insomnia, pages and pages stacked in drawers, the single blank page in the typewriter, the notebook's script, the repeated sound of danger in ocean waves that keep a young girl awake one night in the early 1970s, drugs and their ghostly (dis)comfort, the material violence of Latin America's cities, the palliative effect of words and laughter among friends.

I'll finish reading it tonight but I'm already convinced of the book's greatness. Escudos occasionally writes about the violence that can erupt at any moment in Latin America's cities. Such as when La Cayetana and a friend are walking in downtown Sanzívar one evening after eating ice cream:

"—that's when a couple shots went off.
—and we threw ourselves onto the sidewalk...ah, how I wished I had a gun at that moment, memories flourished, I felt as if I was back in those marvelous days at the end of the 70s, right in the middle of the city.
—we saw people running." (158)

Violence is never romanticized and El Salvador's long civil war only appears in brief flashes of memory. Today's hyper-violence (a plague afflicting practically every city in Latin America) also remains far in the background. Instead, Escudos is trying to disentangle the process of poetic composition, how one writes or tells a story, how the poet writes herself. This is the task: to write (live) the poem and dissolve all fears.

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