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Puig, who died last year, could have titled his collected fiction Codependency Forever! A demonic web-maker, a soap-opera-ish complicator, he was an art-novelist almost cruelly determined to keep his authorial voice out of the picture altogether. Here, solely in the most mundane dialogue and through discomfortingly plain letters, he tells the ""story"" of two old sisters who live in Rio--Nidia and Luci--both from Argentina originally and both living what at first seem utterly vicarious lives. Luci is taken up with the romantic entanglements of a neighbor woman, a psychologist; while Nidia--once Luci leaves to visit her son in Switzerland--becomes enmeshed in the pathetic goings--on of her building's doorman, one of Rio's underclass. Luci dies in Europe, a fact that everyone tries to keep from Nidia (who's also not long before lost a grown daughter to cancer)--and for a while, Nidia's letters are sent into the void. But if Puig has an agenda, it may be that no story is void-bound; for everyone talks to everyone else, is involved in everyone else's life, as mere puzzle pieces of one greater story still. The psychologist neighbor becomes just as transmittingly involved in the old ladies' lives as they were in hers; and Puig manages to stuff an awful lot of psychology and sociology and humor into the flattest of fictional textures. Nidia and Luci are adorable dupes--but, Puig seems to say, who isn't? An extraordinary novel from a very special writer.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster