ANTIGUA AND MY LIFE BEFORE by marcela Serrano

ANTIGUA AND MY LIFE BEFORE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This exploration of the mysteries of womanhood, artistic and political commitment, and identity focuses on the lifelong symbiotic friendship between rootless artist-architect Violeta Dasinski and famous pop singer Josefa Ferrer, who tells their story. Chilean novelist Serrano begins her tale in 1994, when a violent crime committed by Violeta propels Josefa to retrieve her friend’s diaries—which, thereafter juxtaposed with Josefa’s memories, piece together the fragmented history of their shared youthful idealism, and the separate paths each took, to be joined again only sporadically, and most memorably in the sanctuary (far from the Pinochet regime’s crimes against humanity) of Antigua (in Guatemala): “the last hiding place in the world”; “a city with zero aggressiveness, totally peaceful.” The frequent richness of detail does involve us, but its preponderance of faux-mystical celebrations of feminine creativity and bonding (encapsulated in numerous allusions to the confrontational poetry of Adrienne Rich) reduce it to argument whenever it cries out for drama and, incidentally, make us wonder why (the rather generically radical and solipsistic) Violeta is so much more interesting to Josefa than she is to the reader.

Only intermittently compelling.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-49801-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2000




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