Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter

Paperback | December 13, 2011

byCarmen Aguirre

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Winner of Canada Reads 2012!

New in paperback, a gripping, darkly comic memoir of a young underground revolutionary during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s Chile.

This dramatic, darkly funny narrative, which covers the decade from 1979 to 1989, takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina and Pinochet's Chile. Writing with passion and deep personal insight, Carmen Aguirre captures her constant struggle to reconcile her commitment to the resistance movement with the desires of her youth and her budding sexuality. Something Fierce is a gripping story of love, war and resistance and a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life.

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From the Publisher

Winner of Canada Reads 2012! New in paperback, a gripping, darkly comic memoir of a young underground revolutionary during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s Chile. This dramatic, darkly funny narrative, which covers the decade from 1979 to 1989, takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentin...

Carmen Aguirre is a Vancouver-based writer and theatre artist who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written or co-written eighteen plays, including The Refugee Hotel, which was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for best new play in 2010. Something Fierce is her first book.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:December 13, 2011Publisher:Douglas And McIntyre (2013) Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1771000368

ISBN - 13:9781771000369

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging, thrilling account Carmen Aguirre was taken into the Underground world of the Chilean resistance when she was a pre teen. Her real life was a secret and she could tell no one. This is an unconventional coming of age story of a lifelong committed leftist full of joys, boys, and fast friendships. The streets of La Paz come alive in a way you have not seen. Great read!
Date published: 2014-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An easy read that inspires Really enjoyed this book. Loved the descriptions of various latin american countries and their people and regions. The contrast of life in Canada and life abroad. A coming of age story that is inspiring, thoughtful and humorous.
Date published: 2012-03-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A bit hyped After winning Canada Reads 2012, I decided to read this book. When I looked at the top five chosen by Canadians, this was my second choice to read as I have an interest in foreign political matters. After completing this book, I felt un-satisfied. I was continually thinking that the "good parts" would eventually come. Unfortunately, it never did. I admit that this might have to do more with my expectations of what the book was supposed to be instead of what it was. I guess I was looking for more of what was taking place during the time period (i.e. the adult conversations that her book talked several times about in secret although revealed little details, and what was happening all those years besides smuggling goods across borders.) Instead, this was more of a "girl-to-woman" account that was primarily sitting on the sidelines of history and the effect it had on her mental being. It's not that her story isn't compelling; I just felt like I never really understood why this is supposed to be such an essential story for all of Canada to read. Unfortunately, this book is a bit hyped and I am really surprised of how well it did in the competition.
Date published: 2012-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth every penny. Couldn't put this one down Especially recommended for the 40+ and worldly Canadian woman. i loved how Carmen relates the most unusual of circumstances of her life as an underground revolutionary to pop hits of the day -ties the reader's privileged circumstances when particular songs were hits to to the occasionally hellish goings on in Carmen's life. Kudos to the various Canadian arts councils for helping in the sharing of this story.
Date published: 2012-01-24

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Editorial Reviews

"Aguirre has crafted a narrative packed with suspense, emotion, and dollops of sardonic humour." -- Quill & Quire "[Carmen Aguirre's] life has been anything but regular, and she seamlessly and eloquently tells her early life story in her first book." -- Rabble.ca "[Carmen Aguirre's] story is the personal experience of a brave young woman evolving her understanding of herself and her place in the world, told with passion, personal insight, rich detail and humour...Something Fierce is raw, courageously honest and funny; an insightful journey into the formation of a revolutionary soul." -- Globe & Mail "A coming-of-age story that blends birthday parties and puppy love with indoctrination in the tradecraft of subversion: how to arrange the delivery of secret documents, how to lose a police tail, how to lead a double life." -- Toronto Star "Carmen writes like someone who knows how it feels to exhale with no certainty that another breath will follow...The stories that fill this book feel like the stories of several lives, not the adventurous, exhilarating and harrowing adolescence and early adulthood of one extraordinary person." -- National Post "The years of [Carmen Aguirre's] tumultuous teens are evocatively detailed in her first book, Something Fierce, a new memoir that illuminates what it’s like to come of age amid terror. What it is most certainly not is a political treatise or a book about heroism or martyrdom. What you get is a brutally honest and wryly funny story, told through the eyes of a girl young enough to yearn for cork-soled platforms and steal kisses with boys." -- Georgia Straight"Aguirre has written a fascinating, warts-and-all portrait of herself, her family, and South America. The book is a brave document, written by someone who is clearly no stranger to bravery." -- Quill & Quire "Something Fierce is more than a journey into the shadows of political repression. What could have been a narrative of unremitting horror is relieved by joyous occassions…and by poetic descriptions of surroundings…Carmen Aguirre, now a respected playwright, has found the courage to revisit her terrors. She has inherited the heart of a revolutionary so the struggles for justice will continue, one the page, or on the stage." -- BC Bookworld "This is a moving, heart-racing journey through the political landscape of South America during the 70s and 80s told by a brave daughter of the Chilean resistance. An inspiration to anyone who strives to live a life of passion and purpose." -- Camilla Gibb, author of Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement "Something Fierce is energetic, funny and dark, thoughtful and moving, told from the perspective of a girl growing into womanhood in a household where to be in the resistance was always to be poised between life and death." -- Myrna Kostash, author of The Prodigal Daughter "[Carmen Aguirre] is a master storyteller. In this extraordinary memoir we accompany her in childhood, desperation, doubt, fear, and commitment. This book is long overdue. I recommend it to everyone who loves life and needs to know what some give up so life is possible." -- Margaret Randall, author of To Change the World: My Years in Cuba and As If the Empty Chair / Como si la silla vacia (poems for the disappeared) "Aguirre is usually funny and self-deprecating rather than rueful or repentant. Not necessarily uplifting, but often oddly entertaining -- certainly more so than Giorgio’s Memoirs of an Italian Terrorist (2003), which Aguirre’s reminiscences complement." -- Kirkus Book Reviews "While adroitly chronicling her remarkable childhood within the constricted world of exiled revolutionaries, Aguirre simultaneously untangles the complex political, economic, and cultural currents sweeping South America, ushering in the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Aguirre's writing is splendid; she combines black humor and a sharp intellect and tells her powerful story in grand style."  -- Publishers Weekly "In a voice that rings beautifully and heartbreakingly true -- filled with tenderness, confidence, vulnerability, compassion, fear, and courage -- 'Something Fierce' movingly renders the normal difficulties and pleasures of adolescence as they collide with the urgent sacrifices and consequences of clandestine political struggle. Only a real writer could do justice to such a remarkable story, and Carmen Aguirre proves up to the task at every turn -- an overwhelming and inspiring read." -- Casey O'Neil, Elliot Bay Book Company "Aguirre's riveting memoir chronicles her childhood as the daughter of Chilean resistance fighters...[her] writing is splendid; she combines black humor and a sharp intellect and tells her powerful story in grand style." -- Publishers Weekly  "Aguirre is usually funny and self-deprecating rather than rueful or repentant. Not necessarily uplifting, but often oddly entertaining -- certainly more so than Giorgio’s Memoirs of an Italian Terrorist (2003), which Aguirre’s reminiscences complement." -- Kirkus Book Reviews "While adroitly chronicling her remarkable childhood within the constricted world of exiled revolutionaries, Aguirre simultaneously untangles the complex political, economic, and cultural currents sweeping South America, ushering in the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Aguirre's writing is splendid; she combines black humor and a sharp intellect and tells her powerful story in grand style."  -- Publishers Weekly "In a voice that rings beautifully and heartbreakingly true -- filled with tenderness, confidence, vulnerability, compassion, fear, and courage -- 'Something Fierce' movingly renders the normal difficulties and pleasures of adolescence as they collide with the urgent sacrifices and consequences of clandestine political struggle. Only a real writer could do justice to such a remarkable story, and Carmen Aguirre proves up to the task at every turn -- an overwhelming and inspiring read." -- Casey O'Neil, Elliott Bay Book Company "A stirring account of a revolutionary's girlhood." -- Booklist