Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries - Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Title: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on A Latin American Journey
Author: Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Translated by Alexandra Keeble)
Country: Argentina
Year: 2003
Pages: 175
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. 


beastmomma said...

I thought that the movie was pretty good, but I was also bothered by the fact that he and his friend did not pay for anything on their trip.

charley said...

Hmm, I've heard the movie is quite good, so I'm definitely surprised that the book is lacking. Oh well, I still plan to see the film, but I don't mind skipping the reading part.

Melissa said...

I think this would be one that I'd want to like but might not. I'd really like to see the movie, though. Thanks for the reminder.

BTW, you're the 100th review, so you win something! (yay!) Do you want Bride and Prejudice or a bookmark and chocolate??

Let me know (with your snail mail address): mmfraf at sbcglobal dot com.

Teddy Rose said...

I loved the movie so much that I then read the book. The book fell flat for me, though I think I gave it 3/5 stars. It's rare that A movie is better, but here is one!

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