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Lima Nightsby Marie Arana
Synopses & Reviews
Give me your hand.
It was dark in the bar, the air thick with cigarette smoke and the salt stink of pisco and perspiration, but he could see that she was as lovely as she had seemed from across the room. She was standing with one hand outstretched. Her hair was long, black, heavy; her teeth white and straight behind the radiant smile.
Come. You've been staring at me long enough. You want to dance?
He felt the fever of the evening's accumulated drink make a slow, pleasant course for his brain. His friends were laughing, slapping the hard oak with their hands. Someone shouted, Bluhm She wants to see you move Go on Give her something to look at
They had come from the Club Germania, the venerable establishment on the outskirts of the capital where they had spent a quiet evening with their wives, plying them with pork chops and applesauce, goulash and spaetzle. Escorting the four happy matrons to Oscar's sleek black Mercedes, they had instructed his chauffeur to take them to a nearby parlor for ice cream. The men would go off to Las Americas for brandy and cigars.
But it wasn't to Las Americas that they had gone. Willy, who had long been carrying on with a woman in San Borja, had a better idea. There was a place not far from Carmela's apartment, he told them--Noches Lindas. Good bolero, fresh Havanas, pretty women.
Willy being Willy, his description was wrong on most counts: It was tango, not bolero. The cigars were stale. The sign over the door read Noches Limenas--Lima Nights. But the women were reasonably good looking, the only exception a toothy mestiza with orange hair.
They had taken a table a good distance from the dance floor so that they could survey the lot. Clearly, some of the women had come with men--or would be leaving with them. They were draped over the men's shoulders, stroking their hair, nuzzling their necks. The ones with red collars were employees of the bar, the waiter explained, and available as dance partners. All you had to do was wiggle a finger.
Marco, a genial hotel manager and ever the catalyst where women were concerned, had been the first to call one over. She was delicate as a bird--tiny and freckled--pale for a Negro, hair bleached the color of wheat. Why her? Willy barked, as she made her way to their table.
Why do you think? Marco barked back over the loud music. She looks German A bit more nose, a bit less lip, and she could be my cousin Hilda.
They laughed and watched him go off, the three of them content to sit and take in the liquor.
It was true Bluhm had been ogling the one with long dark hair. There was, after all, the matter of her dress--black, with red straps and a rippling red frill along the hem. Slit to one hip, it clung to her, so that there was no mystery about the curve of her breasts or the sweet little shape of her ass. It was the dress that got his attention. Then came the rest: The nut-brown skin, smooth, dusted here and there with gold glitter. The angel face, the scarlet pout of her lips. And, finally, the red velvet ribbon that circled her neck, signaling her status as an available partner.
The loud, fluttering wail of the bandoneon drowned out the men's voices, but he no longer cared what they were saying. With an
From a National Book Award finalist for her memoir American Chica and the
Enjoying the good life in upper-class Lima, Peru, with an elegant wife, three terrific drinking buddies, and an occasional fling, Carlos Bluhm becomes obsessed with Maria Fernandez, a beautiful sixteen-year-old dancer at a seedy tango bar, embarking on a passionate affair that will destroy his marriage and turn his life upside down. 40,000 first printing.
From a National Book Award finalist—for her memoir American Chica—and the author of the acclaimed novel Cellophane comes this spare, powerful story of sexual obsession and its consequences.
Carlos Bluhm leads the good life in upper-class Lima: he attends social functions with his elegant wife, goes out drinking with his three best friends, has the occasional, fleeting assignation. . . . Until he meets Maria Fernandez, a dancer at a tango bar in a rough part of town. The beautiful sixteen-year-old intoxicates him. An indigenous dark-skinned Peruvian, she represents everything his safe white world does not, and soon he can’t get her out of his mind. They begin a passionate affair, one that will destroy his marriage and shatter the only reality he’s ever known.
Flash forward twenty years: against all odds, Carlos and Maria have remained together. But when Maria finally presses for a formal commitment, feelings long suppressed erupt in a tense endgame that sends both of them hurtling toward a dangerous resolution that will forever alter their lives.
Brilliantly realized, erotic, unsentimental, Lima Nights is a unique love story and a stunning work of fiction that will reverberate long after its final page.
About the Author
Marie Arana is the editor of the Washington Post Book World. Born in Lima, Peru, she now lives in Washington, D.C.
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