Luisa Valenzuela, the Argentine writer has used the setting of Manhattan for her Argentine hero to roam around, get lost and confuse himself. Augustin, the hero of the novel takes refuge in Newyork, after the military dictators smoke out free thought in Argentina. He gets a grant for the stay and write a book. One day he goes to a theatre, meets an actress in the play, goes with her to her house and kills her with a gun, for no reason and without any provocation. He runs away from the scene. He takes refuge in the house of a writer-friend Roberta and confesses to her. She cannot understand how he could have commited murder and tries to analyse how it could have happened. Both of them come to a convoluted conclusion that may be it was part of a make-believe theatre. In a sub-plot, Roberta visits her friend Lara who runs a sadomachist centre where men and women live their fantasies, sexual perversions and let themselves be tortured and punished. Lara tells the writer that her centre should give abundant materials and themes for the writers. Later Augustin also visits Lara's den and lets himslef subjected to a milder version. The book ends with a confusion in the same way it starts.
The title of the novel is self explanatory. It was all black ... after going through the dark alleys one ends up against a black wall.
There are, of course, some interesting parts in which Valenzuela gives clear and vivid touch of Argentina contrasting it with the new world of NewYork.
After having tried the other books of Luisa Valenzuela and failed to appreciate except one book, I did not want to give up. I finished this book.. but it left me with a sense of vacuum at the end of it.
Now I understand why there are so many psychologists in Argentina. Luisa Valenzuela, Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar and the other writers should be confusing the Argentines thoroughly and making them to seek psychic help.