cover image Palm Latitudes

Palm Latitudes

Kate Braverman. Simon & Schuster, $18.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64542-7

Propelled by a compelling plot that is enhanced rather than hampered by the lush, sprawling prose, this luminous second novel by the author of Lithium for Medea is a dazzling piece of writing. Set in the Mexican barrio of Los Angeles, it tells of three women: a whore known as La Puta de la Luna, a housewife who murders a social worker and a weary matriarch inhabit this almost mythic tale of destiny and oppression. Braverman is an accomplished poet, and her use of language, while sometimes florid, is more often simply breathtaking. Her characters are able to utter fantastic and oblique commentary without appearing as mouthpieces for their creator, and it is to her credit that the authentic Latin American flavor remains consistent. ``They don't clap correctly,'' complains a mother of her daughters. ``It sounds hollow, shallow, as if even in celebration they were saving their hands for a more important purpose.'' The male-dominated, macho world of these women is at once sad, funny and ultimately limited, yet Braverman's women are powerful even in defeat. This is a virtuoso performance. (June)