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Category Archive for 'Dominican Republic'

When her husband Sam dies alone of a heart attack in the minutes that she has been waiting to join him at a favorite restaurant in Vermont, devoted wife Antonia makes it her primary focus to create an afterlife for him. She needs something that will enable her to relive memories and past events with him while she lives her everyday life. When Mario, a young, undocumented worker from Mexico who works on the nearest farm, comes to clean her gutters, he eventually asks for a favor – Will she please help him call his girlfriend who is now in the US but far away from him in Vermont? Developing her themes of love and loss in life and death as they affect Antonia, Julia Alvarez creates several subplots involving other characters, all reflecting powerful emotions without descending into sentimentality or maudlin self-analysis. Mario, his girlfriend Estela, and José, his fellow worker on the farm, are one plot, dealing with the problems of illegal immigrants desperate to create new lives in the US. The second plot line revolves around a get-together of Antonia and her three sisters in Massachusetts to celebrate her birthday. The failure of sister Izzy to appear for the celebration, as promised, becomes the all-consuming issue for the other sisters for many days, and the need for Antonia to be present as they and the police all search for Izzy force her to be out of state when some of the issues involving Mario and his undocumented girlfriend are becoming critical. Abandonment, betrayal, the sadness of loss, and anger lead to personal growth, further develop the original themes, and flesh out this dramatic and sensitive novel.

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Consisting of nine short stories, all of which are about love, This is How You Lose Her describes whole worlds within the title itself. Four of the stories are named for the speaker’s lovers, and all of them reflect the speaker’s inability to experience love on a plane higher than that of the physical, which drives every aspect of the speaker’s life. With a title that sounds a bit like an instructional manual by a now-frustrated macho man who is telling other similarly frustrated men how they can manipulate relationships in order to get and keep what they have – or at least not lose it – this collection of stories reveals the behaviors of several male speakers who have no clue about how to experience lasting love. Nor, it seems, do most of them even seem to want one single lasting love when two or more loves can provide at least twice as many thrills, twice as often. With Yunior, who appeared in both Diaz’s first story collection, Drown, and in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as a main character in several of these stories, the narratives move back and forth in time, and for anyone who has read the biography of the author in Wikipedia or elsewhere, they become almost spooky in their closeness to the biography of the author himself.

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In prose which is dense, dramatic, and saturated with images of violence of all kinds, Vargas Llosa reconstructs the final, tumultuous years of Rafael Trujillo’s despotism in the Dominican Republic.

Using three points of view to give breadth to the portrait of the country in 1961, the author cycles the chapters through three distinct viewpoints: that of Urania Cabral, a contemporary 49-year-old woman who has returned to the Dominican Republic for the first time in 35 years, and who shares her reminiscences of her life there in 1961, when her father was President of the Senate; that of Trujillo himself as he reflects on his declining health, his 31 years in power, and his relationships with subordinates, the church, and the U.S.; and that of four conspirators waiting to ambush and assassinate “The Goat,” as they individually recall the events which have driven them to take this final step.

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