Luisa Valenzuela

Mark Axelrod

Poor Wikipedia, this is what it says about Luisa Valenzuela... Luisa Valenzuela (b. November 26, 1938, in Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a postmodern novelist and short story writer. She is a writer of magical realism, a popular theme in Latin American literature."  Magical RealismÖa popular theme in Latin American literature?  Is that a theme?  Oddly enough it doesn't mention her background in journalism or her essays or anything about her history for that matter.  Be that as it may, yes, November 26 was her 70th birthday.  And she shows little sign of retreating from the mercurial machinations of her pen (or computer) to the sequestered confines of her cloven back yard.  I know this from personal experience since I've lodged at La Casa Valenzuela numerous times, sharing breakfast with la maestra and discussing topics from Arlt to Zuvir'a (probably not Zuvir'a, but I didn't know another Argentine writer whose name began with a "Z"), Axolotyl to Emma Zunz (if you get the drift), from, well, you get the drift.  

Once, over breakfast, we were talking about writing (or was it the existential question: Why do agents exist?) and I asked, au passant, an ironic passing, if she had prepared the breakfast for me.  She gave me one of her patented, I think it's patented, Valenzuela gazes.  A Valenzuela gaze (not to be confused with a Lacanian gaze) is something that peaks out from the corner of her eyes (not exactly a sidelong glance since it's a gaze, mind you, and sidelong glances are usually found in Balzac novels) which bespoke of what she would soon say which was something to the effect that "if you remember anything about me, remember I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen."  Or something to that effect.  Perhaps, it wasn't exactly those words, but the meaning was clear.  I certainly wasn't going to look a lizard's tale in the mouth nor was I going to complain to Clara about some lack of symmetries even though strange things have happened here, there, especially in terms of bedside, or, tableside, manners.  Don't censor me.

But to the point, the point being that on November 26 La Luisa celebrated her 70th birthday and I'm honored to be the guest editor of this portion of this edition of Golden Handcuffs which honors her and her contributions to Latin American and World Literature. 

Feliz cumpleaños, setenta años mas.