THIS I BELIEVE: An A to Z of a Life

Carlos Fuentes, Author , trans. from the Spanish by Kristina Cordero. Random $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6246-1

"I hope that the reader of this book will discover the various kinds of love... contained in each chapter of my personal alphabet," acclaimed Mexican novelist Fuentes (The Old Gringo ; Inez ; etc.) declares in this lovingly crafted abecedary of his life. In his characteristically luminous prose, Fuentes traces the power of love to transform and to endure through his relationships with his children, his writing, his favorite writers and film directors, and his encounters with the devastation and hope of revolution. Meditations of several pages each range over topics from globalization and revolution to Balzac, sex and God.

In a profound exploration of the novel, Fuentes writes that while it may criticize the world, it must not be dogmatic: "Politics can be dogmatic. The novel can only be enigmatic." Writing of cinema, Fuentes offers a paean to beauty as reflected in the faces of film's leading actresses: "[W]hat would our... lives be without the beauty, illusion, and passion granted us by the faces of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks and Audrey Hepburn, Gene Tierney and Ava Gardner?" Meditating on the ecstasies of sex, he declares that the end of a sexual relationship was the time when sex could be transformed into literature. "A body of words crying out for the closeness of another body of words."

Elegant and lyrical (and beautifully translated), Fuentes's lush memoir guides us on an exhilarating journey through his life—and into the world at large. Agent, Brandt & Hochman. (On sale Feb. 1)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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