This bombardment of multiple layers of thought and emotion is exactly what it feels like to read Aphasia by Mauro Javier Cárdenas ... The novel is formally daunting when you first get going with it. I’ll admit it takes a second to realize you are in fact reading the rhizomatic architecture of thought itself. Once you get going, though, it’s a rollercoaster of a run ... The light speed at which this book careens forward can make it difficult to see where the narrator is taking us, but it’s a worthy journey and universal themes emerge ... It’s the as it’s happening narration style that makes Cárdenas’s new work so innovative and exciting to read. It takes one of the oldest adages about the novel and spins it anew: novels help us understand what it’s like to be inside someone’s head.
Divided into five sections of short chapters, the story unfolds in a fragmented, fractured style, the long, breathless sentences dizzying and richly packed with memories, connections, and literary references. Cárdenas undercuts the idea of a single, stable identity and suggests the self as a many-layered work in progress ... Fans of the author's inventive, ambitious debut novel will find the same sardonic intelligence, paired here with a deep humanity ... Original, richly felt, deftly written. Highly recommended.
Cárdenas follows up his wild and intelligent The Revolutionaries Try Again with an exercise in extreme navel-gazing ... Few if any of these potentially intriguing plotlines are resolved, leaving the reader with what feels like notes toward a novel. Cárdenas’s literary experiment never quite coheres.