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Peel my love like an onion : a novel
Ana Castillo
Adult Fiction CASTILL

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Confirming her reputation as a talented writer, Castillo's (So Far from God) sardonic and seductive novel flowers at the exotic intersection of Chicago's flamenco, Gypsy and Chicano communities, where Carmen Santos, a defiant ex-flamenco dancer, struggles with the end of her career and the dissolution of a passionate love triangle. Left with a crippled leg after a childhood bout of polio, Carmen has always been defined by those around herÄher parents, the school for the disabled she attended, her lovers and her public, who know her as "La Coja" (the cripple). It is only when she is dancing that she is sure of her identity, and as polio belatedly reasserts itself in her 40-year-old body, she feels she is losing the core of her existence. Then, like her legs, her two Gypsy loversÄAgust¡n, the married leader of her troupe, and Manolo, a fiery young dancer and Agust¡n's godsonÄabandon her. After 17 years as a dancer and a sensual being, Carmen is reduced to working in a sweatshop, at an airport pizza joint and as a corn-on-the-cob peddler. Most difficult of all, she is forced to move back into the family home, where her crotchety mother erodes her spirit. Dependent, stubborn, naive and heartbreakingly vulnerable, Carmen is a realistically flawed and lively survivor. In the person of her indomitable protagonist, Castillo's trademark feminist and border-crossing concerns acquire a new depth and complexity. Her writing has matured, and she keeps her own voice unobtrusive, stitching a seamless narrative. The pace here does not match the breakneck velocity of her previous works, nor does the novel strain for elaborate effects or call upon magic realism, yet its verve is unflinching. As careful an achievement as the patient peeling of an onion, this compulsively readable narrative should delight, and expand, Castillo's audience. Agent, Susan Bergholz. Author tour. (Sept.) FYI: Castillo's first and second novels, The Mixquiahuala Letters and Sapogonia, will be reissued in trade paperback by Anchor. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Carmen "La Coja" ("The Cripple") is a flamenco dancer despite her bad leg (she had polio as a child). This is not, however, a sentimental story about her triumph over tragedy, though in an inspired early passage we do see her struggle to learn to dance. The tale spun by Castillo (So Far from God) instead focuses on an older Carmen, past her prime and piecing herself together after a tangle of romances has unraveled. Peel her love like an onion, and you get layer after layer of confusion and betrayal: just as her long affair with August¡n, the double-dealing manager of her troupe, begins to stall, she falls passionately in love with August¡n's "godson," the talented and charismatic Manolo. Yes, Manolo loves her ("I will never be alone as long as I love you'), but that doesn't stop him from heading off to Spain with August¡n. Carmen feels pretty wind-whipped by his desertion but keeps standingÄthroughout, this tough little dancer never really hits the groundÄand in the end she finds her voice, literally: she can't dance any more (except for herself), but she has a new recording contract. Lyrical and sharply told, though this tale has been heard before: of course Carmen will triumph, and what makes Manolo so special, anyway? For most fiction collections.ÄBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Carmen "La Coja" Santos
Female
Age: 40
Hispanic
Has a polio-affected leg.
Sweatshop employee

Agustin
Male
Married
Dance troupe leader

Manolo
Male
Gypsy
Young, fiery.
Dancer



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