Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Title: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on A Latin American Journey
Author: Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Translated by Alexandra Keeble)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
First sentence: This is not a story of heroic feats, or merely the narrative of a cynic; at least I do not mean it to be.
The Motorcycle Diaries introduces us to a young Che, Ernesto Geuvara, as he travels across Latin America with his good friend and fellow Argentinian Alberto Granado. Ernesto is a medical student; Alberto a biochemist; and they pose as doctors who have worked with lepers to garner free food and lodging on their trip. They come from a life of privilege, yet they lie, beg and plead, and pay for nothing on their trip.
I wanted to like this, but I didn't. It is immediately apparent that this was largely written after Che's journey, and his reflections have a tint of retrospective bias. I wanted to hear more about the places they visited and people they met, but everything seemed glossed over too quickly. I was surprised by some of his negative remarks about indigenous Indians and those of African descent. This was one of the most defining moments of Che's early life, yet his words do not showcase the transformation that was spurred by his witness of social injustices on the journey. I was ultimately disappointed by the lack of depth of this memoir. For those looking to learn more about Che, I would recommend reading the Che Guevara Reader instead of this one. This is one of the very rare instances I would also recommend watching the movie rather than reading the book.
Interesting 'fact': The ever reliable Wikipedia states that Che never intended his diary to be published.