Here a series of luminous vignettes describe the childhood of Argentina’s rediscovered modernist writer. Self-contained, interconnected fragments begin with her family’s departure to Mendoza in 1910 and end with their return to Buenos Aires and the death of her father in 1915. Lange’s notes tell intimate, half-understood stories from the seemingly peaceful realm of childhood, a realm inhabited by an eccentric narrator searching for clues on womanhood and her own identity.
‘Permafrost’s’ lesbian narrator is an uninhibited lover, a no-hope employee, and a some-time suicidal student of her own dislocated self. As she tries to break out of the roles set for her by a controlling, overprotective mother, a relentlessly positive sister, and a society which imposes a gut-wrenching pressure to conform, she contemplates the so-called will to live when that life is given, rather than chosen. Attempting to bridge the gap between the perennially frozen reaches of her outer shell and the tender core of her being, watching her relationships with family fracture and her many lovers come and go, the protagonist’s reservations about staying alive become ever more pressing.
A woman, accompanied by her lover, searches for her lost brother, who may have been a revolutionary, and who may have been tortured, imprisoned or killed. Roving through a Mediterranean landscape, they live out their entangled existences, reluctant to give up, afraid of the outcome. Reflecting the schizophrenia of its characters, the novel splits into alternating passages, switching between the sister and her lover’s perspective. The lover’s passages are also fractured, taking the form of a diary with notes alongside the entries. An intricate system of repetition and relation builds across the passages.