The Princess of the Iron Palace

Gustavo Sainz, Author Grove/Atlantic $0 (307p) ISBN 978-0-394-56066-3
Taking place in the late 1950s and early '60s, this monologue details the daily life of a vivacious and beautiful young woman growing up in the middle class of Mexico City. Nameless but with a distinctive and energetic voice, the narrator recounts the frantic doings of her group of friends, many of whom have monikers like that of her boyfriend, Handsome to the Maximum, or the girl called Dressed Like a Man. Well-educated and well-off, the narrator, whose family is connected to Mexico City politics and business interests, travels to Miami and Europe as well as Acapulco and eventually finds work as a model. Her observations credibly combine a youthful, hedonistic self-interest and an odd, self-found code of values. Drug, drink and sex abound, yet a sweetness clings to this young woman even as her tale unfolds in contradictions, denial and an increasing tone of desperation. The author edited a women's magazine in Mexico City, where he observed the fashion-model milieu. Hurley's translation is notable for its smoothness and pace, preserving the narrator's particular expressions and distinctive rhythms of speech without sounding stiff or false. (May 18)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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