This is a new novel by Puig, an Argentine novelist who is also author of "Betrayed by Rita Hayworth", "The Buenos Aires Affair" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman".
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Puig's recent novels have been especially concerned with storytelling - as one character enraptures another with tales that may or may not have had any basis in reality. And, in this new book, he has brought the idea of the unreliable narrator/narration to an even higher, fascinating pitch. "When was the last time you saw me?" Those are opening words, out of the mouth of a woman named Maria da Gloria, who is acting as the interlocutor for ex-lover Josemar, with whom she had an affair some years before. Her questions to him give Josemar repeated and ample opportunities to change his versions of how things went in their liaison: if he liked her, if he didn't; how they first had sex (on a bed in a hotel, on the ground in a park, or in a shed); how he abandoned her, as he later would do with a wife and children; how he likes being an electrician and mason. . . or how he hates it. But, whatever the ambiguities of fact, it's almost instantly obvious that Josemar is a thoroughgoing, macho heel, perhaps even a fairly serious psychopath. His monologues are peppered with aggressive, repeatedly abrasive patterns - "Is that clear?" or "The situation is as follows." HIS speech fails into depressing rhythms: "She likes sex a tot, because there are two kinds of women: the ones who were born to be housewives, to work and nothing else, not to be mounted, and the ones who were born to work and be mounted, which is to say she's the kind of woman who was born to work and be mounted." And Jan L. Grayson's translation is appropriately gritty, with an unappealing quality that's probably true to the original. Still, both Maria da Gloria and (in the book's later sections) Josemar's whiny but loving mother continue to listen to shifty, self-serving, boorish Josemar no matter what. And this may be an illumination of Puig's theme and point here: stories - the attention paid to us by them - is a human continuity as strong as any addictive drug; and no revisions, even the most selfishly and lyingly flamboyant ones, truly divert our hunger and wishful appreciation. Puig makes this a hard, unpleasant lesson here - yet it accumulates with great force by the novel's end; the result is convincing, impressive, if short on comfort and charm. (Kirkus Reviews)