Eduardo Galeano’s The Book of Embraces (1989; Trans. Cedric Belfrage and Mark Schafer, 1991) is a hypnotic volume, arranged a little like Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch, so that you can read straight through, if you wish, but you might also be guided by the index (which records the page numbers for multiple pieces on the same theme).
Most pieces are a few paragraphs long, although some occupy more space with woodcut-styled illustrations. Some read like poems, others like fables, others like newspaper headlines.
Some themes appear in sequence, like “Forgetting” and “Television”. Others are interrupted, like “Resurrections” and “Indians”. Others seem deliberately arranged, like the two on “Art and Reality”, flanked by “Celebration of Reality” on one side and “Reality is Mad as a Hatter” on the other.
There are a lot of “Celebrations…”, easy to identify in the Index (“Celebrations of Courage” and “Celebrations of Contradictions”, for instance) and a lot of “Chronicles…” too.
It feels strangely like a perfectly arranged display and a series of intimate confidences: it’s a good jumping-off point for exploring the work of this remarkable Uruguayan author.