Rodolfo Walsh

In Memory: Tomás Eloy Martínez

February 2, 2010

by Ruxandra Guidi

In spring 1997 I found my way, pretty much by accident, into an upper-level college course at Rutgers University, called “Historical Fiction in Latin America.” I knew little about the instructor, other than the fact that he wrote critically-acclaimed fiction, often about two singular figures in the history of Argentina: Juan and Eva Perón.

Little did I know that until my graduation and for many years to come, Tomás Eloy Martínez would single-handedly influence, give shape and inspire my obsession with journalism and my desire to practice it in Latin America. With his patience and kind and humble wisdom, he encouraged me every step along the way.

We read books and short stories voraciously, discussing them long after the class period ended. Arráncame la Vida by Angeles Mastretta was a particularly memorable one; Tomás knew her personally and reveled in sharing with us a mix of unofficial and scandalous truths and fictions about her life. We also read The Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig, and Operación Masacre by Rodolfo Walsh, which still sends chills down my spine every time I think of it, and which opened my eyes to the important role of journalists as champions of human rights, critics and witnesses.

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Tags: Tomás Eloy Martínez, Angeles Mastretta, Rodolfo Walsh