Sada starts his novel with the word “Sex” and ends it with “Sheer relief,” and in between we find almost every variation on the theme.
Demetrio Sordo is an agronomist in Mexico in 1945, and he has an unbridled need to unleash his prodigious sexual appetite, especially when it comes to Mireya, a gorgeous prostitute with whom he falls half in love—and fully in lust. Because his job is rather boring, he finds he’s energized only when he’s visiting Mireya at the brothel. She fulfills his every sexual desire, and at first these consummations seem to provide Demetrio with a provisional, albeit carnal, happiness. But Demetrio’s sexual idyll is interrupted when he attends a wedding in northern Mexico and meets a very different kind of woman, the virginal Renata, who’s closely watched by her mother. Demetrio falls in love with Renata but finds his courtship abruptly truncated when he kisses (or “licks”) her hand, a sign of disrespect according to Renata’s madre. Then begins Demetrio’s dance between purity and desire, for while he wants Renata, he also wallows in sensuality with Mireya. When he finally makes up with Renata’s mother, she sets the date of the wedding a year away, primarily to make Demetrio suffer so that he will appreciate the special quality—let’s call it primness—of her daughter. The novel culminates with the long-delayed consummation of Demetrio’s wedding and honeymoon.
Sada writes lustily and with comic brio about Demetrio’s dilemma—but this is definitely not a book for the kiddies.