Dark Desires and the Others


Dark Desires and the Others
Luisa Valenzuela, translated by Susan E Clark
2011, Dalkey Archive Press
266 pages

THIS is a book about writing, by a prolific and successful Argentine practitioner who has been widely translated in English and from whom we can learn a great deal. The post-Boom novelist Luisa Valenzuela has always been a bold experimenter unafraid to take on patriarchal power structures, from domestic authoritarianism to dictatorship. Dark Desires and the Others, however, described by the author as an “apocryphal autobiography”, is something of a departure, bringing together musings from a 10-year period she spent living in New York about the relationship between the real world and the world of writing. Writing, to Valenzuela, is a bit like love – an attempt to reach out and engage with another person at a deep and meaningful level. In a series of apparent entries in her notebooks, she confronts her own dark desires, from the sexual to the emotional, but in particular the compulsion to keep a written record of her obsessions. Her many notebooks, she discovers, contain little about her activities and much about the “other” – “the frustrations and the passions, the brief (or otherwise) love affairs, the fears and the attempts at appropriating love…”. These themes, combined, force her to confront what she is doing: writing as a way of putting everything that would disturb the flow of writing outside oneself. The often uncomfortable but strangely compelling entries and analyses in this collection provide a fascinating insight into the mind of a writer and raw material for philosophers scratching their heads about the differences between what is real, and what is written. – EC

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