A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN, BY JULÍAN LÓPEZ, TRANSLATED BY SAMUEL RUTTER
In Julían López’s English language debut, A Beautiful Young Woman, the narrator tells the story of sharing the Buenos Aires apartment of his youth with his young mother, a vivacious woman who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. At the time, Argentina was under the control of a dictatorship. This book is meditative, driven by images that flow one to the next and seem to follow the logic of dreams. Like the nature of recollection, the narrative is sensual, recursive, and sometimes pointedly inaccurate. Readers that enjoy lingering in a story’s physical details will absolutely love this book.
The present of the story is not firmly grounded in boyhood or manhood, but straddles both, channeling early sexual revelations through the language of a fully awakened man. The narrator remembers a mother who is trapped in the era when she disappeared. She is pensive and larger than life, frequently brooding about the apartment, answering strange phone calls, and then leaving urgently, only to return hours later seeming more relaxed, “more of a woman” (23).
Throughout the book, eroticism ignores taboo. The narrator’s childhood took place in a world of doting women. His encounters with other children are few and far between, but frequent are encounters with pineapple fizz, peppermint liqueur, and Delifrú, and even more frequent are sightings of glossy hair, large bosoms, and flushed women’s faces.
A Beautiful Young Woman is written for readers who are comfortable with ambiguity, who are not in a hurry and do not need things to be explicit, who enjoy complex systems of metaphor, with shifting objects playing roles that themselves shift. It’s written for readers who especially appreciate when a writer can—in the medium of long and beautiful sentences—reveal to them the idiosyncrasies of their own minds.