Varela Tychsen (Spanish Angst, 2007) offers a harrowing tale of a one-sided love affair.
Cherie, the narrator of this story, has just started college, where she’s elated to escape her abusive, demeaning parents. She soon meets David, with whom she feels an instant connection, and the two become physically involved. However, his failure to acknowledge their relationship publicly is troubling to her. As time goes on, she has reason to doubt his commitment (and monogamy), until she’s ultimately forced to confront his indifference to her feelings. Along the way, she suffers emotional damage because of her attachment to him. The story also offers vignettes of other time periods in Cherie’s life, which describe other damaging incidents, often in great detail. In many ways, this book is a bold exercise that abandons some traditional writing conventions, such as straightforward chronology and chapter organization. The frequent spelling errors, however, detract from that experimental quality (“Sharon ought to wear a bag over her head because the site of her was nauseating”). Also, the author inserts strange, black-and-white images into the text at unpredictable intervals, which sometimes occupy several pages. The narrative moves back and forth between time periods with little cohesion, with the sole common thematic element being the narrator’s mistreatment and misfortune. Varela Tychsen’s cryptic disclaimer does little to explain the novel’s autobiographical tone, as she asserts that this is “a work of fiction….I just want to be clear that this is not an autobiography or a biography; though the stories in it are indeed true and it is wholly written from the heart.”
Insufficient copy editing and unconventional organization overshadow this story’s raw emotion.