I Dreamt the Snow Was Burning

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Antonio Skármeta (born Esteban Antonio Skármeta Vranicic) is a Chilean writer, born November 7, 1940 in Antofagasta, Chile. He was born to Croatian immigrants from the Adriatic island of Brač, region of Dalmatia.

His 1985 novel and film[1] Ardiente paciencia ("Ardent Patience") inspired the 1994 Academy Award-winning movie, Il Postino (The Postman). Subsequent editions of the book bore the title El

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  • Paperback
  • 220 pages
  • I Dreamt the Snow Was Burning
  • Antonio Skármeta
  • English
  • 11 February 2019
  • 9780930523077

10 thoughts on “I Dreamt the Snow Was Burning

  1. says:

    Just like its wonderful title, Skarmeta's novel is a very poetic, dreamy affair. Experimental, varied in style, syntax and tone, I Dreamt the Snow Was Burning is a challenging piece of South American political satire documenting the fall of Allende in Santiago and the military coup. The plot mostly follows a group of volatile activists and political thinkers lodging at a boarding house as they welcome a young country boy intent on making his name as a footballer to the house. Arturo is the epitamy of political apathy and youthful cockiness, determined only to make a success of himself through sport. This friction between apathy and action governs the dialogues and relationships in the hostel.

    Arriving with Arturo, Senor Pequeno is the dreamer of the story. A performer and an artist, he teams up with a giant sidekick. His section are often difficult to read, lending the book a haunted circus atmosphere. The early conversation with Arturo on the train to Santiago when Senor Pequeno's chest is bulging with some kind of animal have a hazy comic feel to them, almost Python-esque sketches of bemusement and wry smiles. The dreams and sly humour fade out towards the end after scenes of slapstick failure and misunderstanding leave Senor Pequeno down and out and wishing to be left to sleep on the street - left to apathy and defeat.

    Some parts of the novel, particularly Arturo narrative, are fairly linear and syntaxically easy to follow. With brash confidence he joins a football team, scores his goals and goes on a conquest of a girl. Skarmeta's development of Arturo's slowly collapsing confidence is expertly done - we really feel the awakening of his humility (and in a sense, maturity) after the double setback of his red card and the failures of his seductions. Skarmeta stretches his novel structurally to include elements of football commentary (radio voices, albeit very literary ones), media, music and song - a full bodied, complicated images of a city in flux, of striving voices among the masses.

    Other sections are incredible hard to decipher. The parts dealing with the group in the boarding house are characterised by a lack of punctuation, barely a full stop or a paragraph for pages, switching speakers and points of view mid sentence (an arbitrary word in this case) and very fluid, colloquial dialogue. While it is fascinating to attempt, it borders on the too dense and difficult and would require more time than the casual reader has to unearth Skarmeta's intentions. It also interrupts the flow of the otherwise addictive prose and colourful characters.

    This stream of language does come into its own in the final frantic pages as the various characters attempt their escapes from the military and the tragedies pile up thick and fast as the football stadium changes face into an arena of torture. The confused nature of the narrative perhaps reflects the chaos of the moment quite well and does leave the reader gasping for breathe, and a little unsatisfied, when the final whistle blows. 4

  2. says:

    This novel was published in 1975 and depicts imagined ordinary leftish people prior to the events of the military coup on 1973. The main characters being virgin football hopeful Arturo, and chancer Senor Pequeno aka Lecaros. Several friends (‘Negro’, ‘Fats’ and Sepulveda) meet a sorry end. The style is a typical Latin American jumble of opaque scenes linked by inferred unseen events – it rapidly becomes an ‘enjoy the language forget the plot’ type book. I’m sure perhaps that closer to the events at the timing of writing, symbolism and metaphor have greater meaning but today something was lost on me.

    A quote
    “…If you take a photograph of the house it won’t show the silences, it won’t show that new silence that Angel brought to the house, a mute thing as big as him which may be you can’t even make out, Angelito died bigger than a piano…”

    It’s not particularly graphic or tragic for what I’m sure are very sorry events and somehow as a whole I’m not convinced by the writing – 3 stars.

  3. says:

    When this book was recommended to me I was really looking forward to it. A South American football novel (I’d found one!) set in the last days of Salvador Allende before the fascist coup brought down his democratic socialist government. A book written by a Chilean and published shortly after the coup; a coup with a grim football connection: Pinochet’s thugs rounded people up in their thousands and took them to the national football stadium where they were tortured, killed, taken away and disappeared.
    I would like to say that I enjoyed it, but I can’t. It was like watching a subtitled film in the fog, through binoculars, wearing ear muffs.
    Full review at: http://stevek1889.blogspot.co.uk/2014...

  4. says:

    A story of a Chilean footballer going off on his own for the first time, obsessed with losing his virginity, and lacking the social graces to do so, set in a tense time before the Revolution. Surrealistic with lots of heavy experimental writing with streams of consciousness drifting in one long paragraph among characters and other surrealistic styles.

  5. says:


  6. says:

    Me gustó mucho, pero me costó leer este libro. En comparación a otros de Skarmeta el ritmo era más complicado.

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