cover image Diana, the Goddess Who Hunts Alone

Diana, the Goddess Who Hunts Alone

Carlos Fuentes. Farrar Straus Giroux, $22 (217pp) ISBN 978-0-374-13903-2

Fuentes's latest novel (after The Orange Tree), which seems to be semi-autobiographical, grapples with a double nostalgia--for a love affair and for the bygone era of the 1960s. On New Year's Eve 1970, the narrator, an acclaimed Mexican novelist recently turned 40 (like Fuentes at the time), meets American actress Diana Soren, a character who draws from two mythic archetypes. One is the muse-like moon goddess alternately known as Cybele, Astarte or Diana; the second is the late Jean Seberg, whose stand-in here comes complete with a small-town Iowa upbringing, a burst into fame after being discovered by a dictatorial director to play Joan of Arc and a hounding by the American media for her radical affiliations, which ends in her suicide. Despite his passion for Diana, the narrator learns that she is a ``goddess who hunts alone,'' as their difficult affair undermines his confidence in his abilities as a Don Juan, his standing as a Mexican leftist and his prowess as an imaginative author. Real-life figures such as William Styron and Luis Bunuel make memorable appearances, and the author's ironic, kindly take on his younger alter ego is affecting. Diana, however, lacks real mystique and individualism, and, ultimately, sparks fly not between the author's lovers but only between the lines of his glittery prose. (Oct.)