The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Contemporary Argentinian literature is conspicuously absent from many publishers' lists.
Yet this book by Marin Kohen won the highly valued Herralde prize in Spain and for that reason alone merits attention.
It is set in 1982 Buenos Aires, where the politically moribund military junta invades the Falkland Islands in a desperate attempt to keep itself in power. It was the last throw of the dice, a cynical gamble on the people's patriotism to prolong its murderous rule.
In the elite National School in Buenos Aires teaching assistant Maria Teresa goes about her business of exacting an iron discipline. Blue nylon socks are compulsory, hair must be above the shirt collar and physical distance between pupils at assembly time in the yard is strictly maintained.
Maria Teresa is in admiring awe of her sinister supervisor Biasutto.
Six years earlier he had compiled the list of "rebellious" pupils who were later, during the infamous "night of the pencils," kidnapped, raped, "disappeared" and murdered by the military.
It is a claustrophobic read - at times unbearably so - with its raw and painfully scrupulous study of the moral denigration fascism visits on its subjects.
Maria Teresa's behaviour is both servile and perverse as she lurks in a state of quasi-sexual excitement in the boys' toilets to catch out smokers.
It's there that Biasutto eventually has brutal sex, akin to rape, with her.
The metaphor for Argentinian society of the period is implicit, an oblique comment on the complicity of the silent majority in the dirty war in which the flower of a uniquely progressive generation was cut down.
But the fall of the dictatorship is a harbinger of freedom as the school's Biasuttos are replaced and the transformed Maria Teresa moves to Cordoba with her mother and brother, a Falklands veteran.
In a bizarre turn of events where fiction meets reality, some National School pupils in the Argentinian capital are being threatened with expulsion for participating, three weeks ago, in a demonstration commemorating the "night of the pencils."
Like this novel, that's an eloquent reminder that freedom cannot ever be taken for granted.