Memoir that reads too much like a first draft about the author’s passion for the tango.
At 30, Palmer had done everything right. Educated at Cambridge, she worked for a blue-chip advertising firm and was off on a well-deserved vacation to Argentina. On her first night in Buenos Aires, a cousin took her to a tango club. She was hooked and spent the rest of her vacation taking tango lessons. Once home in New York, Palmer gave over her evenings to tango, dancing all over the city, searching for the perfect partner. Finally, she decided to quit her job and move to Buenos Aires to study tango full-time, with an eye toward becoming a professional dancer. But she wasn’t exactly leaping without a net; freaked that she might no longer be able to afford Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, she convinced her father to subsidize her new life. The bulk of the tale chronicles Palmer’s three Argentine years, during which she lost weight, honed her craft and mooned over a few red-blooded hotties. In 2002, she left Argentina, going into “early retirement” from her short-lived dance career. There the story ends, leaving readers to wonder: What did Palmer do with herself post-Argentina? (The galley’s author bio tantalizingly suggests that in 2003 she returned to live in Buenos Aires, but the text does not go into this.) What lessons did she learn, and what should the reader learn? Her only gesture in this direction is the anodyne reflection that “tango had connected me with ME.” The whole, however, suffers from Palmer’s choice to structure her recollections as a diary: daily blow-by-blow follows daily blow-by-blow. The benefit of such a conceit is immediacy, but immediacy here comes at the expense of reflection and rumination.
Lots of potential, but Palmer doesn’t deliver lyricism or insights to match the depths of her beloved dance. The wonderful cover, though, a retro b&w photo oozing restrained eroticism, is sure to catch a browser’s eye.