Saturday, 24 October 2015

A Lupita le gustaba planchar

by Laura Esquivel

This is the latest novel of the best-selling author of Como agua para chocolate, which I borrowed from the library on the strength of its cover art alone. It is written in rather easy Spanish, yet it took me about a month to go through its 200 pages. Just like the book, each chapter is named after a particular activity (or two) favoured by its unlikely but likeable heroine, Lupita. Lupita the policewoman, Lupita the alcoholic, Lupita mistreated by her ex-husband, Lupita the killer. Lupita who liked to watch the sky. Who liked solitude and silence. Lupita who liked to ask the questions and to deduce. Good quality reading overall, it is let down by its finale. The very last chapter, A Lupita le gustaba hacer el amor, starts as promising as it is named but, in spite of all that, turns disappointingly anticlimactic. I would prefer her getting pissed and/or having steamy sex with her real-life lover rather than experiencing that all-encompassing love for all and everything caused by ingestion of 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin. (Apparently, compounds derived from psychoactive toad are “good” drugs, in contrast to “bad” drugs associated with the narcobusiness.) Incidentally, this chapter features the highest concentration of imperfecto del subjuntivo to be found anywhere in Spanish-language literature; I wonder if this has anything to do with psychoactive drugs.

Para Lupita las personas que no bailan eran por lo general seres egoístas, solitarios y amargados. El baile exige que uno le siga el paso al compañero y que se mueva al mismo ritmo que él. Una buena pareja de baile es la que logra hacerse “uno” con el otro, el que la siente, el que la adivina, el que en un juego de armonía anticipa los movimientos del otro y los acepta como propios. Ahora bien, Lupita sabía que había hombres que, aunque bailaran, también eran egoístas y amargados. Eran los técnicos. Los que se aprendían los pasos de memoria y eran incapaces de improvisar. Los que ni siquiera miraban a los ojos a su pareja, los que trataban de “lucirse” antes que nada. Los que buscaban la aprobación del público antes que la de su compañera de baile y realizaban movimientos desconsiderados como el darle de vueltas y vueltas sólo por lo espectacular que éstas resultaban ante los ojos de los demás. Ése era precisamente el caso del cabrón con el que estaba bailando.


  1. I don't like the picture though. MontyPythonesque, but to my eye too sausage-like.

    1. Forgot to mention: even though it was the cover art that did draw my attention, as it turned out, it has nothing to do with the novel. It is a drawing of Sergio Arau aka "El Uyuyuy" called Medusa Unplug.