VALENTINO'S HAIR by Yvonne V. Sapia


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 Sapia, a poet, has already written a book of poetry with the same title--and the trope here admittedly does have duplicable power. A Puerto Rican hotel barber, Facundo Nieves, has the opportunity to cut Rudolph Valentino's hair in 1926: once and then again as Valentino is dying. This second, final time Nieves keeps some of the hair, hair he finds out is an ingredient for a potent aphrodisiac. The potion leads to a nightmarish lust-and-death occurrence on the day of Valentino's funeral--a secret Nieves has kept for years and that is transmitted to the sensitive, crippled son of his old age, Lupe, only after Nieves's death. Sapia, in an attempt to novelize the story, makes Lupe the more central character--a mistake: he's too haunted, fragile, wispy--and has little else but Puerto Rican ethnic color (foods, witchcraft, street-life) with which to flesh out a book. The writing is charged but static, mere bridgework to the Valentino story, which is the most grabbing thing here.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1991
ISBN: 0-932511-45-7
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: FC2/Northwestern Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991