BEDSIDE MANNERS by Luisa Valenzuela


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 A woman recently returned to find democracy restored in her Latin American homeland remains passively immobilized in bed at a remote country club, trying to ignore the surreal history and politics intruding into her room. The unnamed ``Se§ora'' represents all those oblivious to the suffering and upheaval around them. Nonetheless, she's likable. She wants to overcome her lethargy and rise from bed. She'd like to read the newspaper. But Mar°a, chambermaid and lackey to the country club's powers-that-be, asserts that newspapers aren't allowed. Thinking and remembering are also discouraged. Even opening the French windows is ill-advised, because the right-wing army, plotting a coup, is holding a series of maneuvers on the golf course outside. They destroy the hedge with their defoliants and become increasingly difficult to ignore. One soldier takes refuge under the Se§ora's bed, stealing her croissants. The fascist major contends it is the left that is responsible for all subversion. The Se§ora insists it was the right that swiped her breakfast. The military holds meetings and drills in her room. Soldiers leap over her bed. They insult her when they deign to notice her at all. Still, the Se§ora is loathe to recognize what is happening. The only character who can save her is a Doctor Jekyll/Cabdriver Mr. Hyde type. As doctor and representative of the intelligentsia he is caring, if somewhat oversexed; as cabby and commoner he is boorish and decidedly oversexed. Argentine writer Valenzuela (Black Novel, 1992, etc.) lampoons the woes of Latin American countries teetering between democracy and military rule--rampant inflation, petty dictators, the idle rich, the indignities of the poor--with an absurdist sense of humor. A broad take on class struggle and revolution that breezes effortlessly between the bedsheets and the sheets of history.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-85242-313-7
Page count: 122pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994


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