Books


Saint Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires
Hidden away in the pages of an old copy of Lives of the Saints is a diary brimming with heresy and claims of supernatural powers.

When civil servant Miguel Ibañez stumbles across it at a strange second-hand bookshop, he first believes it's the ravings of a mad man.

But what if it is true? What if the anonymous author has really learned the secrets of controlling time? Could Miguel acquire the same skills and thereby correct the incongruities in his own life?

Trapped in a mediocre job at a forgotten Ministry, his marriage falling apart, Miguel desperately searches for more hidden entries. He is led on an increasingly frantic chase through the bookstores, abandoned buildings and dark subways of Buenos Aires.

Miguel's obsession brings him to the doors of the Saint Perpetuus Club, a secret society that holds the key to the salamanca, the cave where the Devil grants all wishes . . . for a price.

The deeper Miguel goes, the more he wonders whom he can trust. His wife, his friends, his old philosophy professor? Perhaps they are all members of the Club?

Is Miguel willing to risk his life, even his immortal soul, to uncover the secrets of The Saint Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires?

I Remember Julia: Voices of the Disappeared

“A somber tale of murder and a kind of resurrection from the country that made 'to disappear' a transitive verb. Eric Stener Carlson went to Argentina as a member of a forensics team that identified the remains of some of the 30,000 victims of the military dictatorship of the 1970s and early '80s. (That dictatorship fell following Argentina's defeat in the Falklands War.) In one of the country's estimated 340 death camps, in a graveyard 'covered by years of garbage tossed over the cemetery wall by neighbors,' he found a skeleton whose skull had been shattered by a shotgun blast. Thanks to the fact that her orthodontist had presciently kept records of all patients who had disappeared during the so-called Dirty War, 'Skeleton #17' eventually became 'Julia, who had been murdered in 1977. In Carlson's hands, Julia is at once a real person--a medical student, as it happens, seemingly destined for a brilliant career--and a composite, 'an opinion, an idea that lives in people's minds,' as much as a much-missed member of the young intelligentsia who unwisely expressed leftist views to the wrong audience. She and her peers come to life in oral remembrances gathered from schoolmates, relatives, civil-rights activists, and even members of the military; their recollections range from the prosaic to the profound. The conversations he records touch on but do not deeply delve into the atmosphere of terror that once pervaded Argentina, and the silences often outweigh what is spoken; 'we were afraid,' one survivor of the time says with elegant simplicity. By giving voice to that terrible era, Carlson offers a touching memorial to a ravaged generation whose murderers have recently been pardoned by presidential decree. One hopes that Julia's child--she was pregnant at the time of her disappearence, and the forensics indicate that she gave birth before being murdered--will one day learn something of her mother through these pages.”
–Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved

Reviews for "I Remember Julia"

A “powerful and deeply moving portrayal of Argentina’s dirty war, all the more unique and evocative for its focus on the life-and-death of one individual. It is impossible to read this and not come away with a sense of the profound human tragedy associated with this brutal period in Argentine history.”

Cynthia Arnson, senior program associate,
Latin American Program, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Pear Tree: Is Torture Ever Justified?

Late one night, Eric Stener Carlson sat down at his desk to review witness statements of torture victims. It was the late 1990s, and he was working for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as an analyst for the sexual assault investigation team. As he paged through the testimonies of multiple murders, multiple rapes, and villages erased from the map, a half-forgotten memory from his childhood began to emerge... The rape and murder of a young girl from his home town. The suspicion authorities had used torture to resolve the crime. The feeling of satisfaction, still lingering after so many years, that justice had been done.

Then, slowly, voices from Carlson’s past parents, soldiers, torturers, priests began to fill the empty room. They accused him of hypocrisy, for having supported torture in this case but then having spent a career advocating against it. He was filled with fear that, given the circumstances, he, too, could commit torture. That night, Carlson began to write The Pear Tree.

This book takes us on a journey from the mass graves of Argentina, to the desolate slums of Peru, to the rape camps of the Former Yugoslavia. As the scenery and actors change, three elements surface again and again: The stranger we fear. The child who is kidnapped. And the torture we use to save her. It is here, at the intersection of these elements, that Carlson asks the dreadful question: "Is torture ever justified?" Lyrical and haunting, The Pear Tree is a stark exposition of torturers and victims, and the bystanders who support one side or the other.

For students of human rights, The Pear Tree offers insight into the subject of torture far beyond what texts on international law can offer. It is a window onto the world of advocacy; this world is not so much composed of zealous crusaders, as of human beings who, despite their own doubts, resolve to do justice.

Those who work against torture will find in this book an echo of their own, unspoken fears. They will also find something perhaps altogether unexpected: hope. In a confusing time, when presidents and lawyers, soldiers and common citizens advocate torture, Carlson’s voice comes across, soft and clear, like the tone of an exorcist’s bell: "I would rather die, I would rather my society died, if its survival hinged upon my need to torture anyone’s child, young or old. And I will speak out against... all the good people of the world who advocate torture for all the noble reasons or who apologize for those who do."

Reviews for the Pear Tree:

“This small book should be read by everyone today, when the subject is in the forefront of the national consciousness. No one should make up their mind about torture before they read this book.”

Herbert F. Spirer, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, The University of Connecticut

"In vividly told stories, Carlson struggles honestly not only to empathize with the victim, but to put himself, too, in the place of the perpetrator. By doing so, he both acknowledges the instinct to protect that could make him kill or torture and affirms the reasons why he cannot."

Jim Silk, Executive Director
Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights
International School for Human Rights
Yale University Law School

"This is a unique work of spiritual exorcism..."

From the Foreword by Richard Pierre Claude
Founding Editor, Human Rights Quarterly (USA)