From Latin lacūna (“ditch, gap”), diminutive form of lacus (“lake”).
lacuna (plural lacunae or lacunas)
1 A small opening; a small pit or depression; a small blank space; a gap or vacancy; a hiatus.
2 An absent part, especially in a book or other piece of writing, often referring to an ancient manuscript or similar.
3 (microscopy) A space visible between cells, allowing free passage of light.
4 (linguistics) A language gap, which occurs when there is no direct translation in the target language for a lexical term found in the source language
The story is about a writer by the name of Harrison Shepherd, and how he experiences history. He has an American father and a Mexican mother, the first portion of the book takes place in Mexico. His first “lacuna” is the discovery of a cave off the coast that leads to some bones, it hints at an early interest in Aztec history. His first experience with history happens when he has an opportunity to mix plaster for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He becomes a cook for Trotsky, here he encounters the Russian Revolution and relates that to the reader through the eyes of Trotsky.
Frida sends him to the US to escort some paintings. Here he finds his father. Through Harrison’s eyes, we see the wars, politics, and finally McCarthyism.
The book is told in vignettes, mostly part of Harrison’s diary. some of these stories are good, some are not. They are glued together by general references to events in his past, but this breaks up the flow of the book. It didn’t have the feel of a real diary. Although the books span a lot of the 20th century, but the style doesn’t change with Harrison’s learning, age, or stresses in his life.
My summary demonstrates my feelings about the book. Harrison is a passenger through history and a storyteller. Nothing more. He doesn’t seem to make his own decisions, the events happen to him and he reacts, little more. I did find some of his experiences as a writer to be of interest, and his tribulations in the McCarthy period.
I don’t understand the vast interest in this book. It is well written, but not interesting enough for me to recommend.