Poso Wells by Gabriela Alemán
San Francisco. City Lights Books. 2018. 128 pages.
Gabriela Alemán weaves noir, feminism, satire, and environmentalism into the strange history of Poso Wells, Ecuador. Poso Wells follows journalist Gustavo Varas as he investigates the disappearance of a prominent presidential candidate. In Poso Wells, women vanishing into nothingness is a common reality, but no one in town seems concerned. The townspeople are quiet and fearful as the military remains a constant and aggressive presence. Varas’s investigation leads him into a literal underworld beneath the town. He encounters a mysterious woman named Valentina inside the mucky tunnels and brings her back to the surface with questions he is not sure he wants the answers to. He learns of five blind men who seem otherworldly and powerful. As he investigates further, a story of terror unfolds.
Poso Wells is a perfect complement for the current political state of the United States and the hopelessness caused by constant access to terrible news via social media. The story speaks to the delusion and god complex involved in wanting to lead an entire nation and the destructive power of indifference and greed. It also touches on the silence behind the pervasive violence women encounter in their daily lives.
Alemán has created a disturbing, absurd, at times heart-wrenching story about the atrocities committed by patriarchs in power and the difficulty in fighting against colonialism. If anything, Poso Wells is a book about perseverance and resilience. It speaks to the fight human beings have inside them when they feel powerless. Their power is in protesting historical, structural violence and existence as resistance.
Rios de la Luz
El Paso, Texas