A Corner of the World

Mylene Fernández-Pintado, trans. from the Spanish by Dick Cluster. City Lights, $14.95 trade paper (138p) ISBN 978-0-87286-622-5
In her first novel to be published in the U.S., Cuban writer Fernández-Pintado tells the story of a May-December romance set against the backdrop of modern-day Havana. Reeling from her mother’s death and the breakup of her first marriage, 37-year-old Marian, a professor of literature, has built a life of order and complacency at the expense of spontaneity. Things change when she’s tasked with writing the preface for a novel by the 22-year-old writer Daniel Arco, who succeeds in seducing Marian. From here, the novel proceeds down a well-trod path: as the relationship blooms, Marian opens up, allowing her well-organized life to come undone, until a string of lies and inconsistencies reveals Daniel to be a capricious lover. Though Fernández-Pintado’s tale is punctuated with moments of psychological acuity, it also feels half-sketched, with critical sections, such as the initial moments in its central relationship, reading less like fleshed-out narratives than skeletal outlines. And the prose, while fast-paced, is stiff and clumsy (“The bottle lay on its side. So did I.”). Fernández-Pintado is at her best when she’s sketching miniature portraits of Marian’s acquaintances, such as her ex-mother-in-law. In these passages, her talent for characterization and deep knowledge of Cuban history shines through. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 141 pages - 978-0-87286-653-9
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