Speak Sunlight

Alan Jolis, Author
Alan Jolis, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14050-2
Hardcover - 177 pages - 978-0-312-14049-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-425-15799-2
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Although Maruja is grossly obese, she dances a flamenco ``like a whirling dervish [and] the men holler for more. They love her size-this mass of flab and jelly moving and shaking is somehow so life affirming, so imposing, they are transfixed by her.'' And so is the little boy to whom this Spanish servant of his family is a substitute mother, his own being busy in Paris, where his father is a diplomat. From the time he is six to when he turns 14, Maruja is his source of radiant love, and in these pages she is palpably vibrant and unforgettable. Jolis (Mercedes and the House of Rainbows) is a perfect translator of the wide-eyed sensibilities of the sophisticated, observant child he must have been, endowing but not distorting them with a gifted writer's hindsight. He recreates the idyllic summers he spent with Maruja, her sly husband, Manolo, and their relatives in their peasant home in Franco's Spain, where he was outrageously pampered. At 14 he had run with the bulls at Pamplona, gotten drunk, made his first advances to girls and made a night of the tapa bars in Madrid. This small masterpiece will be compared to its Nabokovian forbear. (Feb.)
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