REBECCA HOROWITZ, PUERTO RICAN SEX FREAK by Edgardo Vega Yunqué

REBECCA HOROWITZ, PUERTO RICAN SEX FREAK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An attempt at parody in the form of a memoir, from Puerto Rico native Yunqué (Blood Fugues, 2005, etc.).

Rebecca Horowitz has a mother she describes as a “genetic fruit salad,” a Jewish father and no sense of cultural identity. She begins to discover the first stirrings of a self—a rather depraved self—as she falls for Latin lothario Charlie Maisonet, and, when her lover’s mother suggests that she become Puerto Rican, Rebecca is open to the idea. Soon, this Park Slope social worker is a stripper named Zoraida Delgado. The narrator of this faux memoir states that she doesn’t want the story of her transformation to be confused with chick lit. There’s little chance of that happening. Although her tale does conclude with an ostensibly happy union, few heroines of romantic comedy have happy endings with boyfriends who ask them to perform carnal acts with a dog. As it plumbs the depths of degradation before it soars to a self-actualizing close, the narrative resembles the type of autobiography deplored by Rebecca/Zoraida’s mentor—the novelist Edgardo Vega Yunqué. In this type of autobiography, an underprivileged protagonist overcomes the grim adversity presented by his race and economic status, but only after offering a lurid portrait of said adversity. This, then, is satire, and the author really doesn’t want anyone to miss it. Yunqué allows his protégé to paraphrase him liberally as he lambasts the literary establishment and decries the ghettoizing of “ethnic” art, and he has some valid points to make about the cult of the memoir and the dynamic of excluding non-normative voices by celebrating their otherness. But satire requires tension and speed, which this novel lacks. The narrative moves at a glacial pace, and the increasingly bored reader has ample time to reflect not only on the absurdity of the phenomena that Yunqué parodies, but also on the absurdity of what he has written.

Too slack for satire.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59020-064-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2008