Much along the same lines as Puig's previous Kiss of the Spider Woman (only less compelling), this novel--the author's first to be originally written in English--consists exclusively of dialogues. Ramirez, a 74-year-old, ill Argentinian exile--a refugee from political torture and the compiler of a prison diary written in French code--is in a Greenwich Village nursing home. An attendant named Larry is specially employed to take Ramirez for outings into the neighborhood. And Larry is a failure--in marriage, in career (he was once a small-time history professor), as a son. Somehow, however, Ramirez efficiently gets Larry talking about his past, developing scenarios--mini-psychodramas--in which he and Larry re-live, in a theatrical and hypothetical manner, the major emotional disasters of the younger man's life. The importunateness of these strange conversations, then, is striking--with both men operating on the very edge of dangerous psychic territory. But, as in Spider Woman, there is the impediment of Puig's over-reliance on Marxist/Freudian theory in its least cooked-down form; here it's primarily the Oedipal relationship that is plumbed. And the dialogues come to seem, therefore, like paper targets set up only to be knocked down, while Larry's life, the dominant subject, is simply not very interesting (especially when compared to the made-up movies with which the prison-cellmates of Spider Woman entertained themselves--and explained themselves). So, though Puig's fascination with the theme of power-through-imagination remains honest and thoughtful, this time the fictional manifestation is slight and minimally involving.