cover image Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex, and Salvation

Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex, and Salvation

Samantha Dunn, . . Holt, $23 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7678-3

If your heart beats to the rhythm of salsa—or tango or waltz, for that matter—you'll empathize with Dunn's sudden passion for the Cuban dance, despite her preternatural clumsiness, and one can particularly admire her courage in dancing despite having a metal rod in one leg, the legacy of a horse-riding accident. But this memoir is not for devotees: they already know the nightly routine of following the salsa trail from club to club, the complexities of the rhythm and movement, the subtleties of leading and following—all a revelation to Dunn. And frankly, Dunn's constant self-deprecations about her lack of dancing ability and her I'm-just-a-cowgirl-and-don't-know-how-to-attract-a-man pose are more annoying than charming, particularly after two desirable men leap into bed with her in the opening sections. Yet this fairly typical tale of the search for love and happiness has beautiful patches of writing (Dunn's novel Failing Paris was a PEN/West award finalist), especially when she captures the magic of, and the longing for, the dance ("I watch serious salseras , and I ache to know that kind of movement within my own body," as if it might "unearth something long buried") or elegizing the true love of her life, her Thoroughbred, Harley. Agent, Peter Matson. (July 5)