In the land of the cosmic kite – Olivier Guez

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In the land of the cosmic kite by Olivier Guez is a book that amuses at first, fascinates to a more careful reading and then conquers through the reflections it hides even among the most carefree pages.

What transforms a gesture into history? What makes a moment become the symbol of an era? Of course, first of all that something strong, exceptional happens. But there is no story without someone telling it, without it someone pick it up and make it into mythology. Olivier Guez deals with this and much more in his latest novel, but he has been doing it since a unexpected point of view.

Finding Olivier Guez is a pleasure, but also a surprise. We had in fact read with great attention his fascination The disappearance of Josef Mengele in 2017 (read the review), like The century of dictators two years ago, but reading him something about football and sport is an unexpected pleasure. To tell the truth it is a rediscovery since the French writer had tried his hand at sport in In praise of the feinta reconstruction of the birth of one of football’s most fascinating technical gestures.

However you want to see it, Guez’s pen is always extremely effective, insightful, meticulous, whatever the subject she decides to dissect. We can grasp, quite clearly, some underlying themes in the work of Guez: for example the contempt for the homologation and the gloom of any authoritarian regime.

In his historical analyzes he has always aiming for power, the psychological rather than physical violence that cynical and hungry men exercise on the weakest. Here also lies the great capacity of tell the weak, the oppressed, the chosen victims. In particular, this direction evidently emerges in this last work.

In the land of the cosmic kite first of all it tells of a choice of field: the last ones are chosen in this book. With a fun and colorful start, Guez takes us into his childhood as a young footballer who should and could have emerged, but who instead remained at the post.

This opening allows us to clarify some reflections on the world of football. First of all on the fan who “invests amazing sums in tickets, subscriptions (packages of pay TV channels, magazines, newspapers), stickers, jerseys, travels, bets, books (occasionally), video games (above all)”, but also on all the mythology of football and its confrontation and challenge of the surrounding reality.

Maradona and Argentina

It is in this second part of the book that Guez excites and makes you think. Most of the pages are dedicated to Argentina, a country that the writer obviously knows very well and football is a perfect way to trace the history of this country afflicted by a very violent dictatorship.

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The title is inspired by a famous phrase “escaped” to Víctor Hugo Morales immediately after Maradona had scored the second of two goals against England. Game itself already marked by strong feelings after the Argentine deaths following the war for the control of the Malvine. A war that threw Argentina into a serious social and economic crisis, in which just in 1986 we began to see some glimmer.

Guez hits the mark by starting to tell the story of a country that has lived a year of black souls wandering the streets, which, however, has not never lost the desire to play football and dance the tango: authentic forms of popular resistance.

Guez uses football and Maradona to draw the parable of a people on their way to modernitya country in which many former Nazi kapo took refuge trying to disappear, bringing their black hand on the terrible events that marked the history of Argentina in the early 1980s.

A book that amuses in the first place, fascinates to a more careful reading and then conquers through the reflections it hides even among the most carefree pages.

Olivier Guez – In the land of the cosmic kite – Neri Pozza
Translation: Margherita Botto

Rating – 85%

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The article is in Italian

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