If I’m not mistaken, Rodolfo Fogwill’s name came to my attention while reading Vila-Matas’ Bartleby & Co. If V-M wasn’t thinking of this novella while including reference to the author, he should have been.
The story, briefly, is a fictional account of a group of Argentine military deserters—young men who said No—who went into hiding in a ‘warren’ which they carved out of a Malvinas island mountain, burrowing in like armadillos, or ‘dillos, ‘ as they called themselves. The dillos’ squalid existence in the warren is made more bearable by trading with both the British camp and the Argentine quartermaster.
Constantly threatened by the bitter cold and freezing to death, the dillos trudge by night over mountainous terrain to carry out their trading missions while dodging landmines, maintain a constant alert watch for British planes and harriers that might use them for target practice, and enforce their own forms self-governance and punishment while awaiting the anticipated end of the conflict. They even have a pet tapeworm. Really.
While not a political novel, it does portray the British military in a bad light (torture, forced buggery, murder, all the good stuff), and hints at the lack of competence of the Argentine military commanders, all without mention of Thatcher or Galtieri. Remember Raymond Briggs’ The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman? (Yes, THAT, Raymond Briggs, he of The Snowman fame.) This could be the novelization of that picture book.
3.5 stars, rounded up—for historical relevance and that damned tapeworm.