This book, Slackers, is a collection of short stories, part of International Publisher’s ongoing Manuel Tiago series
The title story, “The Slackers,” deals humorously with a mixed bag of misfits who are forced to report to a military correctional camp to complete their obligatory service. As in several of his other works of fiction, Tiago, (Álvaro Cunhal), based his tale on his own life. For a time, in late 1939 and early 1940, Cunhal was forced to complete his military service in a Disciplinary Company.
“Hand in Hand” is a teenage love story set against the background of the post-1974 public flowering of the Communist Party as a significant partner in the democratic reconstruction of the country. In this story the author once again calls upon his own memories, having served as a very young man as leader of the Federation of Portuguese Communist Youth.
“Parallel Stories” is the centerpiece of the collection, the longest and most developed story in this volume, essentially a novella. Set in contemporary democratic times, we see a small regional Communist Party organization struggling with its past as primarily a party of the working class at a time when the working class itself was undergoing profound changes.
The final story, “Lives,” reads like the treatment of an epic-long family saga, or even a sprawling multi-season TV miniseries. Its time frame is deliberately obscure, although to be sure, there is an automobile that plays a small part toward the end. Otherwise, we seem to hover anywhere between the late 19th century all the way up through the mid-20th.