Cuando ya no importe

Cuando ya no importe / Past Caring?

Novel , 1993


On his deathbed, the protagonist reviews the diary annotations of his life from the day his wife left him and the country. His sour resignations of the emotional loneliness of existence and the bleak struggle for material survival frames a return to Onetti's universe of Santamaría and sleazy brothels, now compounded by a drug-smuggling scenario. The hero abandons the city life to befriend the local players in the racket behind a dam-construction project. He is drawn into the lives of Dr. Díaz Grey and his wife, a mulatto housekeeper and her stepdaughter, lorry drivers, the 'Turkish' postman, the denizens o the brothel... and Professor Paley, co-ordinator of the North American front organisation, whose local reps (their physiques fashioned on baseball fields and their minds trained by Blible classes) uphold the company motto 'In gold we trust' by scattering coins to pay off their black and mestizo labourers.

Hardly havens of political correctness, the spare vision of these lives is suffused with warmth and irony. There is a sense that Past Caring? is Onetti's last will and testament to the inner world of his imagination, and a fictional farewell to his readers: a meditation on the approaching death that would curtail further forays from a mind trapped in a failing body.