April 2012



Crazy Love reminded me of Joyce in its employment of multiple narrative techniques. The novella also reminds me of Brett Easton Ellis in its use of pop culture.

There are three stories:

Story one: Abuelo and Abuela: Abuelo Raul has dementia after a stroke. The family tries to take care of him. Abeula must be strong to take care of him. She has a special relationship to Julian Toledo, her favorite grandson, who tries to help her. She guilts Julian into coming home and helping the family. Their narrative jumps in time—going back and forth.

Mami and Papi: Have three children: Julian, Johnny, and Geneia (Genny). Johnny represents assimilation: married to a columbian women, typical family, everyone fits into stereotypical, gender roles. He helps the family, loves his brother. Genny is assimilated Cuban, born in America, following in Julian’s footsteps, she wants to be an artist. Julian lives on the hyphen, just as his sexuality does. He is bi-sexual and is beat by his father for being too effeminate and wanting to take paino lessons. He is raped as a child—the violence reflects machismo attitudes towards alternative lifestyles. When Nito lives in America, his bi-sexulaity and culture reflects Firamet’s assertion, “Cuban-American culture is ‘appositional’ rather than ‘oppositional’ for the relation between the two terms is defined more by contiguity than by conflict” (Life on the Hyphen 6), and his ability to be both American (enmeshed in American pop-culture) and Cuba (playing old boleros) helps him bridge the gap between the two worlds and also causes major tension, illustrated in his complicated relationship with his drummer an with his own girlfriend (Erica, who is white); the tension between his family and him living in Spain; the tension between playing popular American music– watered down version of “ethnic music” and real Cuban music. Therefore, “only by becoming double, can he ever be a whole; only by being two, will he ever be someone” (Pérez Firmat, “Transcending Exile” 12 ).

Genny’s progress is seen in her letters to Nito (Julian), who she admires. Julian’s story is told through interviews, letters, dialogue, and narrative. He says he must tell his story, but he strives for objectivity, saying he wants to give the other characters their say—is this book we read that story? Johnny’s story is told through dialogues, traditional narrative, and a tape he send Julian.

The story also critiques the American Dream: Julian has to assimilate his music to popular American (English) forms; Genny listens to both Cuban and American music. Johnny represents assimilation and Cuban culture: typical wife; he is a capitalist against his brother Julian, who is the bohemian artist.

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This space is superfluous. I constantly use it to post nonsense, so now I’m going to force myself to post little summaries and readings of all the stuff I read, as I am about to embark on reading for my comprehensive exams covering 20-21 cent. American and British literature, which counts as two areas, and also theory. Here goes!