Saturday, July 14, 2007

Clara - novel by Luisa Valenzuela

Luisa Valenzuela is the third Argentinian author for me.
First I tried Luis Borges but I found his books too heavy. I put him in my list for later reading.
Second I tried Julio Cortazar. His novels " Hopscotch " and " the winners" were interesting but I took lot of time to finish. I did not find Latino element in them except for reference to the cafe culture of Buenos Aires.

After these, I found Luis Valenzuela as a simple story teller, giving a flavour of the Argentine society, tango, parque retiro and pampas. The story is about Clara, a naive and innocent country girl who comes to Buenos Aires for a living. Her aspirations are very simple and her dream is to see the sea. Eva also came from the country side to Buenos Aires in search of a new life. But she was lucky to become Eva Peron rising to power and fame.

But Clara is not lucky. She becomes a prostitute and her life changes with the men who manage to take her out of her profession for some time. After having lived with a hotel manager and a tango singer, she falls for a Indian Swami who predicts fortunes. Later she finds out that he is Alejandro, an Argentine who does fortune-telling for a profession, pretending to be from India. He marries her on a whim and tortures her mentally taking out his frustrations of poverty and misery. She is excited when Alejandro makes her as an Aztec Flower in a circus. But unable to tolerate his mental torture, she decides to kill him while sleeping with a knife. But when she wakes up she finds him with the knife ready to sever her head like a real Aztec flower.

This is Valenzuela's first novel. She says in the preface that although Luis Borges was fond of her, he described this novel as pornographic. There is nothing of that sort.
Luisa is said to be a writer of magical realism. But she did not use this in this first novel.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Valenzuela is good and, you're right, much easier to read than Borges or Cortazar.

Another Argentine writer that I recommend who is very good in and writes in a simpler but still very literary style is Adolfo Bioy Casares (who was a close friend of Borges). Also, as for contemporary writers, you might be interested in Ricardo Piglia.