cover image The Last Dream

The Last Dream

Pedro Almodóvar, trans. from the Spanish by Frank Wynne. HarperVia, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-334976-6

In an introduction, Spanish filmmaker Almodóvar (Patty Diphusa and Other Writings) describes this dynamic collection, which blends fiction and essays, as a “fragmented autobiography” and a “complement to my cinematographic works.” The best entries have a confessional tone. These include two works of fiction—“The Visit,” about a woman’s encounter with an abusive priest, which formed the spine of his film Bad Education, and “Confessions of a Sex Symbol,” which recounts a migraine experienced by porn star Patty Diphusa, a character who featured in Almodóvar’s previous collection. In the strikingly personal title essay, he observes, “I learned much from my mother, without either of us realizing.” The author’s complex feelings about filmmaking form the basis for the story “Too Many Gender Swaps,” about two lovers, a director and actor, and their mutually parasitic creative partnership. Not everything works here. “The Mirror Ceremony” is a stiff riff on Dracula, and “Joanna, the Beautiful Madwoman,” a “Sleeping Beauty”–esque fable, is a snooze. But there are plenty of insights into Almodóvar’s creative process peppered throughout (“To write, you must refuse yourself to others”). The director’s fans will find much to admire in this potpourri of ideas and images. (Sept.)