cover image ISABEL ALLENDE: Life and Spirits

ISABEL ALLENDE: Life and Spirits

Celia Correas Zapata, Celia Correas de Zapata, , trans. from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden. . Arte Pblico, $26.95 (204pp) ISBN 978-1-55885-363-8

Like a literary Oprah interview, this book provides a cozy, revealing look at the acclaimed Chilean author of The House of the Spirits and Daughter of Fortune. In chapters that alternate between biographical text and question-and-answer format, Zapata, a longtime friend of Allende, creates a portrait based on her subject's memories and bons mots on love, family and writing. And perhaps because the two women are old friends, Allende's comments fly loose and easy. On her relationship with editors, Allende says, "No one except my mother corrects my books." Asked to comment on her erotic experiences: "Erotica? I don't know, my memories all blend together." On why women use little humor in their writing, she says, "because we use ours up just surviving." And asked why she writes, Allende replies, "Because I am filled with stories that demand to be told, because the words are choking me, because I like and need to write, because if I don't write my soul dries up and I die." Of particular interest is Zapata's commentary on Allende's poor reception in her native country. The novelist may be popular on several continents, but in Chile, Zapata says, critics view her as "a García Márquez epigone, simply a second rank writer." More personal profile than interpretive biography, this book is nonetheless full of meaty details that will interest Allende's fans and may be useful for libraries at schools offering courses on contemporary female or Latin American writers. B&w photos. (Apr.)