This book is a collection of seventeen critical essays that deal with different facets of the literary work of Cristina Rivera Garza. Currently a professor of creative writing at University of California, San Diego, Rivera Garza completed doctoral work on Mexican history, and, in addition to her widely acclaimed novel Nadie me verá llorar, she has been a quite prolific writer. She has published three other novels, three collections of short stories, three of poetry, four compilations of essays, and she writes a weekly column in a newspaper. She has won several prestigious prizes, among them the Premio de Literatura Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in 2001 and 2009.
Besides the critical essays, the book begins and ends with excerpts from the writings of Rivera Garza herself. It has a well-organized introduction by Oswaldo Estrada, in which he gives an overview of the work of Rivera Garza and a lucid synopsis of each critical contribution. The various writers do a praiseworthy job of explicating the fascinating and intellectually challenging work of this author. As a historian turned writer, Rivera Garza routinely crosses boundaries as she engages in constant experimentation. Just as she lives between Mexico and the United States, she moves between history, ethnography, and literature, thus eroding the differences between literary genres in her writing. This self-conscious writer, with an intense interest in the theoretical and technical aspects of literary creation, endorses the idea of the incommensurability of language and reality, and the fragmentation of identity. Several of the contributors mention her being influenced by postmodernist ideas, as shown by the intertextuality of her work, how she questions the hegemonic masculinity and the ideology of progress in Mexico, and how her characters express fluid identities and gender confusion. One is reminded of the work of Mallarmé, Huidobro, or the Dadaists as the critics mention some of her ideas on writing: writing should irritate; only what resists logic or her understanding is worthwhile to be written; the writer should not communicate a message; and a true book does not have a message but a secret, and only alludes to "su propio punto ciego" (18). Finally, for this author, the work is always unfinished and filled with impossible angles. Thus, many of her texts abandon narrative and expository roles and her poetry tests the limits of language.
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