Dark Desires and the Others

Luisa Valenzuela, trans. from the Spanish by Susan E. Clark. Dalkey Archive, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-56478-631-9
A raw compilation of sexual escapes, dreams, letters, and memories make up this "apocryphal autobiography" by Argentinean novelist Valenzuela (Clara) as she revisits the years she lived in New York City, starting in 1979. A recurring theme, she notes, is "writing with the body," and indeed the impressions she records are often about men she meets and sleeps with, among them Pale Fire, Duck, Dieter, and Joe. New York City in the 1980s proves a maelstrom of distraction, she writes, "confluences that offer me the gift of being everywhere at the same time," but also which keep her from writing: "When I sing, I don't write: I frolic. I levitate. I warble." She writes occasionally about books she is reading and her travels (to Bahia; San Francisco for a poetry festival; "a Canadian city" for an Amnesty International conference), and receives news that any writer would kill for: she wins a Guggenheim fellowship. Valenzuela's aim of "trying to let nothing escape" is provocative, but messy, disorganized, and hard to follow, and will best be appreciated by readers familiar with her work. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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