Six-year-old Carmen Aguirre fled to Canada with her family following General Augusto Pinochet's violent 1973 coup in Chile. Five years later, when her mother and stepfather returned to South America as Chilean resistance members, Carmen and her sister went with them, quickly assuming double lives of their own. At eighteen, Carmen became a militant herself, plunging further into a world of terror, paranoia and euphoria.
Something Fierce takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictator-ruled Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina and Pinochet's Chile in the eventful decade between 1979 and 1989. Dramatic, suspenseful and darkly comic, it is a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life and a passionate argument against forgetting.
Aguirre's riveting memoir chronicles her childhood as the daughter of Chilean resistance fighters. Aguirre's parents fled to Canada in 1974 after the overthrow of the democratically elected Salvador Allende. Five years later the Chilean resistance called for exiled activists to return to South America. Many women sent their children to Cuba to live with relatives rather then take them back to Chile and imperil their safety . The family settled in La Paz, Bolivia, setting up a safe house for individuals involved in the struggle. At 18, Aguirre became a member of the resistance. Relocating to Argentina, she carried out dangerous missions while having the cover of an ordinary day job. Dressed as a professional with her hair streaked with blond highlights, her makeup heavy, and her shoulder pads huge, she battled back her fears of being imprisoned and tortured: "The Terror came in waves, sometimes forcing me to hang on to walls as I walked down the street." While adroitly chronicling her remarkable childhood within the constricted world of exiled revolutionaries, Aguirre simultaneously untangles the complex political, economic, and cultural currents sweeping South America, ushering in the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Aguirre's writing is splendid; she combines black humor and a sharp intellect and tells her powerful story in grand style.