Quick read...great story. I would highly recommend.
Ana Castillo's voice is one of self-confident, hypnotic melancholy. Peel My Love Like an Onion, her fifth book, often reads like a diary rather than a novel--full of dashed-off midnight eloquence but unformed. It's the story of Carmen Santos, a flamenco dancer whose right leg is shriveled from polio. Her family moved from Mexico to Chicago before she was born: "My first language was Spanish but I am not really Mexican. I guess I am Chicago-Mexican." Castillo sees the immigrant experience as a minefield of ironies. Carmen works at the Domino's in the airport as a way of being a productive American, thus gaining her father's respect. One morning on a "power walk" she realizes that the shoes she is wearing may have been made in a sweatshop by some distant relative from "somewhere... very foreign, like seaweed-and-black-fungus-in-French-Vietnamese-soup foreign."
As the book moves back and forth between Carmen's dreams of economic and emotional freedom and her erotic life (in which passion often feels as much like a trap as a release), Castillo's fluid style often lapses into carelessness. And there is a blurred quality to many of the images, like photographs taken from a moving car. Carmen's story is most engaging when she experiences isolated moments of independence: flamenco dancing, for instance, for the customers at a hair salon where she is working, dragging her bad leg around in front of the ladies under the hair dryers. The scene--a moment to relish--is almost heroic in its defiance of the exhausted world.
This was a very good love story interlaced with music and dancing. I liked how Carmen learned to find her own voice and dignity.
[Read April 4, 2010]
A great story about a woman who pusues her dreams in spite of her society, her class, her body and herself. loved it!
I expected to love this, with the reference to flamenco (the main character is a dancer), but I am throwing in the towel at about 1/2-way through. I find that I'm just not that interested in seeing how it all turns out.