First Fiction Fridays: Air Carnation by Guadalupe Muro

June 6, 2014

The Guadalupe you will meet in Air Carnation is just like you, a pilgrim in the wonderful, flawed, given world, searching for the best and truest way to be herself, to own her own soul and keep it pure. Like you, she encounters all the multiple pressures exerted by family, school, friends, lovers, tradition, books, custom and so on and on: everything out there that conspires without conspiring to shape a person according to somebody else's specs.

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What:

Air Carnation (BookThug, 2014)

Who:

Guadalupe Muro is an Argentinian writer and artist. Her first poetry collection, Con quién dormías? was published in 2007. Air Carnation is her first novel (BookThug). She worked with two musicians to compose the soundtrack to the novel, a project called "Songs for Runaway Girls," which can be heard here.

Why you need to read this book now:

Because the Guadalupe you will meet in Air Carnation is just like you, a pilgrim in the wonderful, flawed, given world, searching for the best and truest way to be herself, to own her own soul and keep it pure. Like you, she encounters all the multiple pressures exerted by family, school, friends, lovers, tradition, books, custom and so on and on: everything out there that conspires without conspiring to shape a person according to somebody else’s specs. I know you’re with me on this, and I know you’ll be with Guadalupe in her open-hearted embrace of new experience and her flouting of convention: on the day of her eleventh birthday, when she receives “six copies of The Diary of Anne Frank and six diaries,” on the day she shows up a contemptuous professor by reciting the opening lines of Moby Dick, a book he was confident nobody in the class would even have heard of. Follow her through the fascination of first love-making, the plunge into new love, the puzzle and torment of love gone wrong.

Because Guadalupe is also nothing like you, being a sensuous, eyes-wide-open Latina globetrotter from Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina who will tell you about her own loved mountainous region, her shuttle between there and Buenos Aires for school and work, about Washington DC and New York City, about travelling with seniors across Canada on Via Rail as “the only fresh piece of meat in nineteen cars” (there is a predator on board).

Because you can almost learn how to write by watching Guadalupe discover for herself the ins and outs of her devotion to the creative life. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman.

Because of sentences like this: “When I decided to become a writer, I felt like a dog deciding to be a dog.”

Because you can’t ever predict in which direction Air Carnation is going to turn or what’s going to turn up in it, though every turning is a delight. The Penelope Syndrome (TPS). “I have never told anyone this, but art galleries make me horny.”  An extra, extra large rubber penis.  Puyehue volcano erupting. How can it be, you will ask yourself, that a tale with so little conventional plot is holding me so and keeping me so curious about what’s up ahead.

Because Guadalupe turns into someone else without losing herself.

Because Guadalupe is a poet and between one of her incarnations (pun intended) and another she gives you her Songs for Runaway Girls.

Because of the wealth of stories within the story, whther improvised or heard or dreamt or read in other books. The world-roaming grandmother; the dear hippie parents (their daughter raised as if by wolves); the most beautiful man in the world and his paramour, the most beautiful woman in the world; all the beautiful strangers taken to bed not so much for sex as for the intimate stories they will share.

Because despite its artful deep down thoughtful seriousness Air Carnation is feather-light in touch and probably the funniest book you will read this year. Because the book is a hybrid, a true original crammed full of life as you have never yet seen it.

— Notes of a believer.

*****

Thank you to BookThug for sharing this wonderful book with us, and to Stan Dragland, writer and friend of the BookThugs, for sharing his thoughts on why we should all read Air Carnation.

 


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