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Mariposa's Song (Americas)by Peter Lasalle
Synopses & Reviews
Pretty, twenty-year-old Mariposa has entered the U.S. from Honduras by way of Nuevo Laredo, without documentation. She now serves drinks and woos customers as a B-girl—sort of a dime-a-dance arrangement—in a shabby nightclub on the east side of Austin, Texas. Rough work, it's at least giving her a start in America.Between the norteño and cumbia songs the DJ plays, a smooth-talking Anglo out-of-towner who calls himself Bill shows up at the club one Saturday night to sit and casually chat with Mariposa. He smiles and sympathizes; his flattery leads her to reveal the secret pain she has kept hidden so long. But Mariposa has no way of knowing that he's being hunted by police throughout the Southwest.Even in Austin, far from the border, there are dangers more sinister than narcotraficantes or la migra.LaSalles intense, haunting novel beckons readers into the shadowy lives of undocumented workers in the U.S. and the difficult choices they must face. Written as a single book-length sentence, Mariposa's Song is also a truly innovative achievement in the novel form itself, as it continually startles and satisfies with stylistic daring and sheer lyrical radiance.
"LaSalle's (Tell Borges If You See Him) new novel is brief, but it feels expansive with its continued breathlessness, the whole book an uninterrupted sentence. The novel follows Mariposa, a pretty young woman who has recently emigrated from Honduras to East Austin, Tex., where she works as a bar girl at El PÃ‛Ã‚Â¡jaro Verde, a local night club. Magnetic for Mariposa's consciousness are her grandmother's song ('La CanciÃ‛Ã‚Â³n de Mariposa'), invasive images of her immigration story, and physical scarring at her first job in the U.S., but above all, her desperate desire to learn English as the first step to the American middle class. Though she has a suitor, Ignacio, among the club regulars, she is drawn into a cathartic conversation with an older American man; she feels comforted by him in part because he seems to sense and mirror her desire while validating her love for Honduras and the Spanish language. He promises her a path to a better life and she promises to meet with him in a motel the next day to iron out the details. But then a police hunt for a murderer matching the description of the American is revealed. Mariposa's raw desire to escape club life is well rendered; the novel's single-sentence structure conveys its urgency. The revelation of the police hunt may offer a plot framework, but it comes at the cost of breaking the trance that had so carefully captured the reader. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
LaSalles intense, haunting novel beckons readers into the shadowy lives of undocumented workers in the U.S. and the difficult choices they must face. Written as a single book-length sentence, Mariposa's Song is also a truly innovative achievement in the novel form itself, as it continually startles and satisfies with stylistic daring and sheer lyrical radiance.
About the Author
Peter LaSalle is the author of several books of fiction, including the novel Strange Sunlight and, most recently, a story collection, Tell Borges If You See Him. His work has appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Tin House, Zoetrope, Paris Review, Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, Sports' Best Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. He has taught at universities in this country and in France, and in 2005 received the Award for Distinguished Prose from the Antioch Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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