Boulder City Magazine® July 2010 Issue
by Fran Haraway
by Barbara Kingsolver
The first 99 pages of The Lacuna are a gift to the senses. In young Harrison Shepherd’s diary, written at his mother’s request, the boy describes the sounds of howler monkeys in the treetops, the favorite foods of his mother’s lover - not only how they taste but how they look on the griddle - the sights and sounds of the market, the cathedral, and even a few history cameos involving Cortez and the Aztecs.
Boulder City Magazine®
|I’m sort of slow on the uptake, so as I was reading, I was thinking, I love these descriptions, but where is this going? Finally, on page 99, Harrison sees Frida Kahlo at a market and learns that she is the wife of the ugly artist. Then it hit me!
The people, the colors, the parts about Cortez - all the diary narratives - they are Diego Rivera murals put into words! Kingsolver gives all her descriptions legitimacy by making them part of a diary - a book of everyday life which evokes the past. She has constructed an enticing method of introducing us to some of the most colorful people of the 20th century.
Much of the novel deals with Harrison’s time as a cook/secretary in the Rivera-Kahlo home when Leon Trotsky, on the run from Stalin’s hit men, is an almost permanent guest. Now Harrison keeps a diary at Frida’s request, and although it is supposed to deal with facts only, it gives us a glorious 3-D, technicolor look at these three gifted, self-involved, generous, naïve, selfish and thoroughly fascinating people.
When the Trotsky-Rivera household breaks up, Harrison goes with Trotsky as his secretary, and he marvels at how people can live while being constantly on the lookout for assassins. After Trotsky’s nightmare becomes real, Harrison ends up in North Carolina where his letters to Frida and Diego, which comment on world events, are riveting.
And there’s more - so much more! If you want to know what else was going on in the world at the time that people were building Boulder City and Las Vegas, here’s your answer!
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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