Bedside Manners

Luisa Valenzuela, Author, Margaret Jull Costa, Translator Serpent's Tail $12.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-85242-313-1
In this brisk satire, a woman returns to her newly democratized Latin American home and at the suggestion of a friend, retreats to a country club for some rest. To her mounting bewilderment, the country's unexpected turmoil pursues her into the cocoon: the cost of croissants skyrockets by the minute; a military coup brews in her bungalow; and an uprising threatens to spill from a shanty town adjacent to the club's golf links. Meanwhile, a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like cab driver who moonlights as a doctor makes for a confusing lover, as a gallant seduction-by-stethoscope turns into a chauvinist rant the morning after. The narrative takes on the aspect of political burlesque as militia men spring from beneath the woman's bed or goose-step into her room from the television set. At the center of the action, never once leaving her bed, the woman grapples with her passivity, a fertile image at once comic and enraging. Valenzuela artfully communicates that sexual, national, political and class identity are intimately linked and painfully fluid. Characteristically, the thought-provoking humor leaves a bitter aftertaste, but this spare story lacks the evocative language of her other work, He Who Searches or The Lizard's Tail, engaging the intellect rather than the senses. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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