“The Sound of a Broken Chain”

The Sound of a Broken Chain-by J.D. Cortese

  • DougInNC book report
  • “More than a Review”

To be all things to all readers, aspire to write like J.D. Cortese in “The Sound of a Broken Chain.” YA novel? Check. Science novel? Check. Literary novel? Check. Culture? Mystery? Drama? History? Yes, yes, yes, yes.

The setting is 1978 Buenos Aires, Argentina, yet your narrating protagonist is American Edward (Edgardo) Weston, all of 17 years old, smart, alone, and introverted. One friend and one girl change everything.

The natural conversational language of this work captures teenage thoughts and life, while flourishing phrases and deft descriptions make it a pleasure for all readers.

The author accepts comparisons to the story Don Quixote. Fair enough, but the psychological machinations of Edgardo’s mind are reminiscent of Crime and Punishment’s Rodion Roskolnikov, as are the descriptive walks through city lanes and parks. Fyodor Dostoyevsky alongside Miguel de Cervantes? I love it.

A thread of time travel artfully enters, flavoring the tapestry of the tale; some readers may think of “The “Matrix” film series.

References to culture, history, and science abound:

  • Argentines are assigned a flair for the dramatic
  • Americans are meddlers
  • History is malleable
  • Schrödinger committed a cat to science lore
  • S. America was a contained atomic reaction in the 1970s
  • The meek shall inherit the earth, though not before endeavoring to reshape it.

A recent reading from another North Carolina author introduced to my vocabulary the Chinese phrase “rěn shòu” (to endure). From this book I take the term “los chantas,” described as Argentine for “those on the fringes of truth and power.” I’m not sure if that makes them a conduit or charlatan; maybe sometimes one and sometimes the other.

If “los chantas” are unfamiliar in your world, perhaps fate has bestowed this other enlightening truth from “Broken Chain” on persons known to you, maybe too well: “We are stuck with someone we love – and the danger they seek. It’d be easier if we wouldn’t be so attached.” So well put! Pondering a personal perspective like that is only the surface.

The writer’s desire for drama dangles a ferocious thought about war, and the control that is sought by warring factions. Goals of property and power seem huge, but what if there is something bigger?

Postulated in these pages is this concept: “A war like no other is going to ensue. A war in time.” Control of time itself could be the real war to end all wars, – – even those in the past.

Lady Macbeth said, “What’s done cannot be undone,” but Edgardo is not so sure as she.

Be careful, young man. While embroiled in your very worldly and daring adventure with friends and Argentine history, you ponder if it is “… possible, not likely but possible, that one day we’d attempt to [go back and] correct whatever had gone wrong with humanity.” Endeavor to remember this prior exchange, good sir:

Edgardo: “What do you want?”
The Man: “What’s best for everybody – and I really mean everybody.”
Edgardo: “And what’s that?”
The Man: “That is the grand question.”

One thing this reader would not question is a recommendation to read “The Sound of a Broken Chain” by J.D. Cortese. It is well worth your time.

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