The Colors of Memory

Gabriela Tagliavini, Author Herodias $23 (204p) ISBN 978-1-928746-17-1
Originally published in Spanish in Argentina, then rewritten in English with adjustments for U.S. readers by first-time novelist and screenwriter Tagliavini, this novel sends a bitter 80-year-old woman and a 10-year-old boy on a wacky road trip plagued by paranoia, improbabilities and false hopes. Facing death from cancer in a Mexican hospital, Carla Arnone is determined to fulfill one last wish: to return to the United States and kill Dmitri, a sailor and ex-lover she hasn't seen in more than 50 years. She escapes from the hospital and drives toward the border with ""the kid,"" who has been recovering in the hospital bed next to hers and wants to search for his father. Obsessed with colors she hates orange and likes white Carla relates her life story to the boy, who serves alternately as sounding board, font of wisdom and excess baggage. As a young woman in Hollywood in the 1950s, she keeps to herself, reading and writing and teaching herself languages, while her father works as an FBI informant during the Red scare. In her quest to create the perfect character for a screenplay, she meets Dmitri, who first steals her watch, then her prickly heart, and then commits the ultimate act of love and betrayal. Or does he? Readers will come to their own conclusions after witnessing the pair's long-awaited reunion on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Kudos to the author for her creation of an original character and her lively take on the normally meditative subjects of time and memory, but the novel's stilted prose whether attributable to the author or the translator renders Carla, Dmitri and the kid more cartoonish than probably intended. This isn't one for a wide readership, but Carla is a feisty, unusual heroine. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
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