All Men Are Liars by Alberto Manguel

ameliasbooks's review against another edition

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The quality of the writing would have kept me going, but the style chosen to tell this story made it too much of a slog.

dajna's review against another edition

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Si legge in una volta sola, se non dovete subire interruzioni come la sottoscritta.
Al contrario di quanto dice il titolo non ci sono bugiardi, ma solo punti di vista, sogni e ricordi differenti. Il romanzo è diviso in 4 sezioni, con 4 voci narranti, che ci illustrano la vita e la morte del sig. Bevilacqua. L'uomo è un italiano emigrato a Buenos Aires, come tanti. Come tanti incrocia una rivoluzione, la repressione. Come altri si diletta nella scrittura, ma senza successo: il suo unico prodotto di gloria pare essere un'attribuzione indebita, un errore. Bevilacqua prima non ha la forza di chiarire l'equivoco, poi gli manca il tempo: il suo cadavere verrà trovato su un marciapiede di Madrid.
Ma chi è, esattamente, questo signore? Cosa ha fatto prima di arrivare in Spagna? Che lavoro aveva, che persone frequentava? L'amante lo racconta come eroe passionale, il conoscente come persona semplice che si nota poco. La narrazione mi ricorda tanto [b:Sostiene Pereira|562212|Sostiene Pereira|Antonio Tabucchi||114009] nello stile del "si dice che", ma la trama deve molto a Pirandello e al classico [b:Uno, nessuno e centomila|20749679|Uno, nessuno e centomila|Luigi Pirandello||40081312], in cui il protagonista continua a cambiare in base alle persone che lo frequentano. Come è possibile che Bevilacqua sia al contempo torturato e torturatore? Chi ha ragione? Chi ha le prove per identificare quel cadavere sul marciapiede? Ma anche: perché e come, su quel marciapiede, c'è finito?
Romanzo interessante, coinvolgente, un giallo inusuale sullo sfondo dell'Argentina dei desaparecidos.

hsienhsien27's review against another edition

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It's been a long while since I've read something in its physical form. And honestly, I'm glad I'm back because I miss it a lot. This book came from a Bookoutlet order from over a year ago and it's some of the shortest books that I have in my unread pile. But I kept picking it up and putting it down for some reason. During those times, I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it. This novel is a bit hard to get into, but once you get comfortable with it, you will freaking love it. I took this novel with me during a trip to New York to attend a bridal shower. It was totally worth it, it was hard to let go after twenty pages or so, or maybe because I was just bored of listening to my music.

"It's strange how, during a dictatorship, words become infected by politics, lose their nobility, and start to lie about themselves. The tongue is a sly little muscle, and goes wherever it likes. The nose, on the other hand, is like a loyal dog."

The novel is all about one guy, Alejandro Bevilacqua, he was a South American writer that was found murdered. One of the main characters, Terradillos, I don't remember his first name, interviews some people that happen to know this guy, in order to write an autobiography of the elusive writer. Does this all sound familiar? (Psst, The Savage Detectives)

"I know that we are all fools in love, that we let ourselves create plausible ghosts in place of our loved ones. Or rather, we create a ghost which enters the solid person we see in front of us, inhabiting him, looking back at us from behind his eyes."

That's basically the whole novel. Terradillos interviews some people or reads the letters of other people who knew him. There's also a narrative of somebody who was around during the time of Bevilacque's murder, he was actually the cause of it. But I guess I can rule his death as an accident. I don't really have much to say since lately I have been writing these blog posts a little too late. But Manguel is a fairly popular writer and there is nothing wrong with short reviews, so I guess I can let this one go.

"Those deaths that take place out there in the world, those hundreds of thousands of deaths that swamp us every day - they're insubstantial in their vast anonymity."

All Men Are Liars gets its title from a quote of a psalm, you find out in the first page of the book. The title is quite fitting for the plot. Each part or chapter of the novel is a different perspective and each perspective tells a different story of who Bevilacqua is. And what makes this interesting is that nobody, including the interviewer and the reader, has any evidence of whether or not any of these stories are true. Everybody including the elusive writer is a liar. And that's what's so great about this novel, how it shows that everyone you know has a weird, twisted vision of who you are. How your existence can tell more than one story, hundreds more than you realize.

Rating: 5/5

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trina76's review against another edition

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Got 50 pages in and had to stop for now......I do not dislike the book, just was not quite "feeling" this one right I will send this book back to the shelf to try again another day.....does not feel right to give any stars since I have yet to form a true opinion.

mazza57's review against another edition

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I have no idea what this book is about - a lot of it centre around who wrote a particular manuscript and how they came to do so - I could care less. The book lacks structure chapters of 99 pages do not lend themselves to ease of reading. No this one joins the rest of the drivel on that appropriately named shelf

stacialithub's review against another edition

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I selected this book based on the cover art alone. I had no idea what the story was about, nor did I look up any info about it prior to reading. Wow. Loved it. A shifting story with various reliable (or unreliable) narrators, forcing us to think about reality, memory, fiction, & truth. Is there ever really one truth? How can one single truth even exist? Sure, it's a theme that has been covered in many great books through time, but Manguel makes a worthy addition to the pantheon of such works. It's a very readable story with quite a few nuanced layers. Gorgeous.

doma_22's review against another edition

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Scovato per caso, letto con "premura", devo dire che non mi ha convinta del tutto. Una scrittura particolare, mi sembrava un libro diverso dalla veloce lettura della trama.
Alejandro Bevilacqua, nato in Argentina di origine italiana. Questo il protagonista "occulto" perché si parla di lui, non in prima persona dato che è morto anni prima ma ci viene raccontato da chi lo aveva frequentato, che lo aveva conosciuto. Quattro persone diverse che raccontano la storia di quest'uomo secondo i loro occhi, secondo la parte che lui, da vivo, aveva presentato di se.
Non so ben spiegare perché sono perplessa, in verità. Forse mi aspettavo altro, avevo immaginato un giallo, che invece non c'è; forse il periodo "cupo" raccontato, come quello delle repressioni in Argentina e il periodo passato in carcere e le torture raccontate.
La cosa strana che si nota è la visione differente di una stessa persona, ognuno vede ciò che vuole vedere o è portato a farsi un'idea da ciò che gli racconta.
Non so cosa esattamente mi resterà di questa lettura ma vorrei tanto rileggerlo, per dargli una seconda opportunità. FOrse non era il momento giusto. Peccato perché alcune parti sono andate via veloci, coinvolgendomi un po' di più!

lordsbyron's review against another edition

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katemariea514's review against another edition

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot


blackoxford's review against another edition

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Denouncing Reality

According to the philosophy of the 17th century Gottfried Leibniz, no one can know what constitutes reality. We are each trapped in our isolated existence, as if in a windowless room, experiencing things that are both incomplete and incommunicable. Hence everything we claim about the world is an unwitting lie. Truth is some sort 0f summary of what we experience collectively. In such a world, everything is coordinated, as it were, by a benevolent deity who sees to it that we mesh together with some kind of rational and just cohesion despite our inherent mendacity. This, of course, is nonsense. Not because our experience is incomplete or inadequately expressed, but because there is no coordinating God to ensure matters work out with a proper regard for rationality or justice.

On the other hand, perhaps what we call random chance is in fact divine intervention at its most subtle. The Dirty War in Argentina at the end of the 1970’s is Manguel’s point of departure for exploring this possibility from an unlikely angle, namely the unreliability (and irrelevance) of personal biography. Indeed, by recruiting almost every significant Argentine writer of the last century into his narrative of exile and suspicion, Manguel shows how truth emerges from falsehood in a most unexpected way - not through divine action but through the giving up of the endeavour to state the truth. This is the surprising discovery of his journalistic protagonist who is investigating a death in the emigre literary community.

It is intriguing that in order to pull this off, Manguel has to resort to the testimony of a dead man... after he is dead. The dead man is the only one who has the complete picture, who doesn’t lie unknowingly. It is he who has orchestrated the circumstances of the political exiles who find themselves in Madrid - by maliciously lying. But even the dead man, although resurrected for narrative closure, is subject to the laws of chance in both what he encounters and in the results of his actions. He is killed, for example, by another, the writer Bevilaqua, one 0f his victims, and who is already dead. And Bevilaqua never made a claim to know anything.

An Argentinian writer central to Manguel’s story is Enrique Vila-Matas whose study, Bartleby and Co. (, is about the significance of the books that have never been written, and consequently never told lies. Bevilaqua, it turns out, never actually wrote a book. Ultimately this is why he is important - for not writing. The other writers in the story, both fictional and real, are actually unimportant because as one of the characters insists: “Believe me. Lying: that is the great theme of South American literature.” Only by not telling the story does it even have a chance to be true. This is an alternative that Leibniz had never considered: Truth requires silence; or at least the humility to know that silence has become appropriate.