Margo Glantz by Álvaro Enrigue

BOMB 98 Winter 2007
098 Winter 2007 1024X1024

New York Live Arts presents

Marjani Forte
Nov 15-19


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Margo Glantz at 38 Jesus Maria, October 2006.

My conversation with Margo Glantz (b. Mexico City, 1930) was supposed to have taken place last summer. But Mexico’s political temperature was running so high, it kept anyone from doing anything at all except read newspapers, trade rumors, and experience anxiety over a post-electoral crisis that, in the end, only managed to tear apart what was already divided. Those who’d voted for the leftists believed either that the right had won or that the elections were fraudulent. Among those who believed there had been a fraud, some disapproved of the protesters paralyzing downtown Mexico City, while others supported them. Among the protesters’ supporters, some wanted to hold a convention in order to structure a national resistance movement, and others didn’t. The ones who believed in the urgency of holding a Convention could have been for or against founding a new party or naming the leftist candidate Shadow President. In a nutshell: too much to argue about, yet impossible to avoid.

Ultimately, what happened is that no one had really believed the conservatives might make off with the presidency again. We were suffering from universal irreconcilable differences: every single Mexican was in a rotten mood, and on a mission to make the other 99 million 999 thousand 999 Mexicans give back what they owed him. Neither Margo nor I had the willpower, or sense of purpose, or whatever it takes to embark upon an interview. Then she took off for a series of conferences in Australia and New Zealand. We exchanged e-mails and set up an appointment for after her return.

I picked her up at her home address: Callejón del Horno, in Coyoacán. It was early October, and an autumn wind gusted through the city, carrying with it the scent of the high sierra. Margo was still readapting herself to the Northern Hemisphere after her Austral odyssey, having slept 48 enviable hours that she had apparently earned the hard way among koalas, heads of Latin American literature departments, and international airports. As always, she looked like a slightly dazed princess: extremely elegant, and with her mind elsewhere. So what’s the plan? she asked as we walked toward the car. We’re going to La Merced, I told her, to visit where your parents lived after they arrived from Russia.

Next we went to pick up Raúl González, who has gained a certain degree of celebrity both for the product shots he takes for Purina, or Whiskas, and for his portraits of authors in their natural environments. He’s also taken the time to become the strangest species of fauna in the visual arts: he’s a microphotographer. While all his colleagues endeavor to publish their stuff in Wallpaper , he swells up with pride because his shots of natural fibers were featured in Nature . González’s quests are esoteric: for the past 15 years, he’s been portraying basic natural structures in search of a secret aesthetic order in the world; he’s a Humboldt of sorts but on a molecular level, which has led to a naturalist body of work that is quickly becoming seminal. If he finds a pattern, he tracks it from the mitochondria in rat hair to the aerial geometry in flocks of swallows, or to soccer fields pictured from the skies, or even to star nebulas.

Thus, it was fairly obvious that our conversation wasn’t going to begin with a brainy digression about the feminine body in literature—one of the topics that has made Margo a classic both in fiction and in theory—but rather, with Australian fauna. I turned on the recorder as we descended from the tunnel on Chapultepec Avenue into the Historic Downtown area of Mexico City. We were discussing some oyster-colored rodent when Margo observed that to her, the strangest animal of all seemed to be the platypus. Raúl asked her if she meant the one that looks like an ornitorrinco and, in one of her typical gestures, she denied it: No, no, no, she said, it’s something else entirely. It likes the water and lays eggs, but it has hair like a seal and it’s a mammal. Wait, it’s the one with a beak and a beaver tail, right? Raúl asked. Yes, Margo confirmed. Then it is like an ornitorrinco , I said. She denied it again: No, no, no, the platypus is nothing like an ornitorrinco . A silence is then perceived in the recording, during which, I imagine, Raúl and I exchange disconcerted glances. Also, the noise from the street enters the scene: we’d exited the tunnel and were back in the sunlit world filled with Margo Glantz’s equivocations, which are laden with meaning.

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN MEXICO CITY

Corroboration that nothing is the same after Margo has intervened is evident in the statement she made as we advanced down Fray Servando Street: And there are possums, too. She said the animal’s name in English, thinking no doubt of Ezra Pound and the poems Eliot dedicated to him in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. What do you call possums in Spanish? Here, tlacuaches, I told her, and in other Spanish-speaking countries, zarigüeyas. That’s right, she nodded; well, there are possums too. We were dealing with a mind whose references are exclusively literary. She couldn’t care less about the anatomy of the ornitorrinco or the fauna of Veracruz.

When we spoke next of Australian dingoes, it only served to prove that books are her whole universe. She defines them as horrible dogs that don’t bark—she can’t be bothered with the fascinating cycle of de-domestication they represent and on which Raúl tries to insist: they behave like wolves, but they’re descended from dogs and look like dogs; they’ve recovered their genetic memory. No, Margo says, no, no no, that’s not what matters, what matters is the fact that they don’t bark because that’s what Columbus said he saw in America: dogs that don’t bark (and who knows what he saw), which demonstrates he didn’t have a clue about anything; he thought he was in India and he was in Santo Domingo watching Australian animals.

For Glantz, as for the authors of Baroque sainetes or 19th-century comedies of errors, equivocation is one of the Fine Arts.

We talked a little longer about our travels: for example, the time she and Raúl were marooned in a crematory in Venares, India. You could really get high off all that smoke, she said in reference to the exhalations of burnt human flesh issuing forth from the crematory, making a macabre but perfect joke that I’m not sure will ever be found amusing in English. We also talked about the Galapagos, where she’s planning to go on vacation with her daughters and grandchildren next winter. There’s a risk, she comments, addressing Raúl, that I may become a naturalist like you. It’s all the rage, he says, then adds: Does the tour of The Genealogies [The Family Tree] count as naturalism? He was referring to Glantz’s best-known book of narrative: a family history that begins in the Ukraine before the Bolshevik Revolution and ends in the Mexico City of the 1980s. Aside from its extraordinary documentary character, it was a major influence on Mexican literature during the second half of the 20th century. The violent mixing of narrative genres—autobiography, chronicle, novel, short story—became a common literary form. The Genealogies is also a treatise of black humor: Margo must be the only writer in the world capable of making her readers shake with silent laughter while she depicts characters—her father and her mother—exchanging memories regarding relatives who suffered atrocious deaths in the Soviet Union. In Margo’s hands, anything is an opportunity for equivocation—Columbus as the discoverer of Australia, for example—a trick with mirrors that will, in the end, reveal new meanings in well-known stories.

We can’t do the whole Genealogies tour in one afternoon, I responded. This is precisely because the book embraces the years in which Mexico City became unembraceable. Where’s the shoe store? I asked her. Shoes are another of Glantz’s literary obsessions. Throughout her works of fiction she establishes their origin in the shoe store her family owned during her adolescence. Her most recent book—of short stories—is titled, as a matter of fact, The Story of a Woman Who Walked through Life Wearing Designer Shoes. Her first, extraordinary tale, “Shoes: Variations on a Pedestrian,” is the story of a shoe designer and at the same time a very deep, insightful meditation on the triple marginality of being a woman, Mexican, and Jewish. The shoe store was on Tacuba, she responds, and we’re already too far away. All right then, Raúl says, let’s go to El Carmel.

El Carmel was another family business that ended up being the fashionable café among the vigorous Mexican intellectual class of the 1950s and ’60s: it was located in the Zona Rosa, equivalent to the East Village in New York, and was managed by her mother and run by her father, Jacobo Glantz, who aside from being an asymmetric businessman—a feature that apparently always drove him to bankruptcy—is, to date, Mexico’s best Yiddish poet.

The Genealogies tells about when Mr. Glantz showed his daughter all the pictures his clients at El Carmel took of him. You were a dead ringer for Trotsky, she says. Sure, Don Jacobo answers; whenever Diego Rivera painted Trotsky for some mural, he’d call me and have me model for him—that story is true. I ask her whether the Carmel Cake Shop located in the San Angel neighborhood—on the other side of town—belongs to her family. She answers no, and says she doesn’t know where I got the idea that her parents’ business was a cake shop. From The Genealogies, I tell her. No, no, no, she says—it was a big restaurant, kosher style; there were reubens, matzoh ball soups, pickled beets. Well, in the book, I tell her, you only mention cakes. Because they were the best; there was a time, she says, when all the poets, painters, and sculptors of Mexico were there: it was amazing. Was that during the glory days of the Zona Rosa? No, it was before then; El Carmel was the first restaurant in the Zona Rosa, the only other establishment there was a hotel that doesn’t exist anymore either.

Just then, the chauffeur interrupts the conversation to say we’re very close to La Merced neighborhood. Where are we going, exactly? he asks Margo. To 44 Jesús María Street, she says, where I was born. Then she addresses us: And I mean that literally, because back then you were born in houses, not hospitals; besides, my mama never recalled whether I was born at 6:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the afternoon. Fundamental, Raúl notes, for your astrological chart. Just imagine, Margo responds. Have you done both? I ask her. Yes, she answers, and I like the one from 6:00 in the morning better; according to that one I’m going to live for about a hundred years.

Soon after, we find Jesús María Street and turn left. How far down is it? the chauffeur asks. Across from the convent, Margo says, but I’m not sure; I haven’t come back here since the 1980s, when I was writing The Genealogies. Later on she’ll tell us that she doesn’t remember much from when she lived there; the only thing that remains crystal clear is that there was a gelatin shop across the way—again, desserts—but she’s not sure if that’s for real or not. I ask her if La Merced was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood back then. No, she says, there were immigrants from all over because it was a poor neighborhood; like now, it was the street market in Mexico City. Back then you only bought and sold downtown, and La Merced was the market downtown. My papa used to say that when he arrived from Russia, the city ended at 183 Coahuila Street. I don’t know whether or not the joke translates into English—it’s more about the abruptness of the city limits; you don’t have to know where Coahuila Street is to get it—but I swear, in Spanish (and no doubt in Yiddish) it’s hysterical.

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Margo Glantz at 38 Jesus Maria, October 2006.

LA MERCED

The first edict of the Spanish government of Mexico City, dated September 1523—a few days after the fall of Tenochtitlan—is dedicated to the need to regulate street commerce in the urban zone. By then Mexico City was, as it is now, the largest city in the world, although it was no longer the most populated, due to the harsh siege that preceded its fall.

Some things never change: the La Merced neighborhood was a market in Tenochtitlan, and remains a market today. There are regular places of business and an immense mercado building; but there’s also an infinite number of street vendors who, as in the 16th century, spread out their merchandise on a blanket. As we moved along Jesús María Street, the sidewalks started filling up with stands where you could buy the most unbelievable objects, from dolls’ eyes to imported bras or medicinal roots—everything that has fallen between the cracks of Western culture. Only two blocks from Fray Servando—the main drag—there’s barely enough room on the causeway for our car to squeeze between the anthills of stands and shoppers. We advance at a snail’s pace, behind people who stroll with their shopping bags as calmly as if it were Sunday afternoon.

In the recording you can tell that as we continue speaking of other things, we follow the numbering house by house, in search of number 44. We began at 122 and after a little while, we’d passed 118. No problem. We noticed number 98 and we stopped paying attention for a while, then suddenly Raúl’s voice can be heard, upset: We passed it already, we’re at 22. The chauffeur indicates that he hasn’t seen any convent yet, that something’s gone wrong. No, no, no, Margo says, we’re fine, that’s how the numbering is here—as if she were blaming Mexico City for her own literary equivocations. All the time in Coyoacán, they knock on my door and ask if my house is number 23, even though the doorbell is underneath a very large number four. A while later, we pass by 140.

Then the conversation turns, who knows how, to her dogs. She owns several, practically an entire pack, constantly plundering the patio in her home. Raúl asks her how her favorite, Hilaria, is doing. She says she’s had to separate her from the rest because she was picking fights with them. Then Raúl turns to me and says, you weren’t there the night there was a dogfight inside Margo’s house. I answer that I most certainly was.

That dinner party was unforgettable: there was an abundance of very proper and elegant guests, seated in the living room with coffee and desserts, when suddenly the dogs burst in like a gale. As the guests—ties and shawls flying—tried to pull some of them outside, the rest started attacking the tray of chocolates. While those in attendance dashed to rescue the marzipan, Hilaria and another dog clashed tooth and nail between the Ming vases.

I tell Raúl that I’m afraid he was the one who wasn’t there that night: I don’t recall him being there. In fact, I’ve never seen him at Margo’s house. No, Raúl tells me, I was there at the dinner party when they fought and you weren’t. Goddammit—my voice sounds exasperated—I clearly recall it was Mario Bellatin, the Peruvian writer who’s missing a left hand, who separated them with his hook. Margo clicks her tongue: You’re both right, they’re always fighting, that’s why we had to isolate her, I’m telling you. This is the first sentence that begins without her correcting us first with no, no, no.

Then we’re back to desserts. She insists on her belief that across from her house they sold gelatins out of a drawer. Out of a drawer? I ask her. Made of wood? I thought she might mean a street vendor who displayed his merchandise on top of a big wooden box. No, no, no, she says, drawers is what the locals called them. From colonial times, that’s what they’ve called the stores people had on the first floor of their houses, facing the street. When the Jews came, they were selling on the sidewalk, but the ones who’d been here longer sold out of drawers. Did your parents arrive directly from Russia to Mexico City? No, no, no, first they were in Sweden, then in Amberes, and from there they took a steamer; they weren’t planning to come to Mexico, they were on their way to Cuba even though they couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. Did they speak Yiddish? Raúl asks. Yes, two different dialects; so between themselves they spoke Russian. I point out to her that the first person I heard talking about Jacobo Glantz was Carlos Monsiváis. God forbid, Margo says, nothing good, I’m sure. No, I told her, with great respect. People really loved him, Margo notes. It was still a small city, so they knew him everywhere; sometimes I find people who see my last name and tell me, I knew your papa. And she goes on talking, on her own behalf and that of someone else, as if she were writing an account: How did you meet my papa? In 1968, the police were after me—the interlocutor, we suppose, was a student involved in one of the political movements at the time. And your papa hid me in the kitchen of El Carmel—he goes on—and when the cops came, he told them that no one had come by that way, that they could search the place. He’d bring the whole world into the kitchen or sit them down in the restaurant and give them free food; then he’d give them money so that they could pay, because if he didn’t, my mama would get really mad—she was the one cooking and charging all day while he chatted with his friends in the salon.

He was a lot like you, I tell her. Rather, I’m a lot like him, did you know him? No, I’ve seen photographs. He had a great sense of humor, she says, and it’s clear that the capacity to turn anything into comedy is a family trait that makes her proud.

I comment how it amazes me that in her books, the duty of memory evolves into a picaresque exercise: it is always her father’s character who tells the most dreadful tales, and who’s always capable of transforming them into parody. My favorite story, Margo says, is the one about his brother, who was a doctor who left behind in writing—before dying of cancer himself—that according to his research, cancer wasn’t hereditary; but then all his sons died of cancer. In the recording, we’re all roaring with laughter, even the chauffeur—again, I don’t know if anyone will get the joke once it’s in English. Because the sum total of Mexican and Jewish humor renders frankly macabre results.

Every chapter of The Genealogies is a different conversation between parents, children, and grandchildren in the Glantz household. It’s all about equivocation and reconvention: one of the leitmotifs of the book consists of one parent talking about his or her childhood while the other makes corrections—even though they grew up in different parts of Russia and didn’t meet until they were teenagers. I tell Margo there’s a lot that’s Mexican in that: the unending dinner conversations running in different directions at the same time. Everyone seated at the table speaks with another two or three people about different subjects at the same time. Juan—she says, referring to the father of her daughters, who wasn’t Jewish—never had a problem with those dinner conversations, but my book seemed over the top to him. From there we make the leap to borrowed memories, and the recording becomes garbled—Raúl and Margo talking about the murdered Amish girls, Margo and me about my parents and their childhoods, me with Raúl about the Lakota reservation my wife grew up on—until the chauffeur calls us to order, pointing out that we’re already at the convent. It’s a 17th-century building that stands out for its majesty even on a street filled with majestic houses.

That’s the Jesús María Convent, Margo says. It was the richest convent in Mexico, and now it’s in ruins. Once again, equivocation as metaphor.

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Dona Lilia and Margo Glantz.

42 JESÚS MARÍA

I had the impression while we were closing in on the house where Margo was born that once in context, it would be easy to guide the conversation toward some of the topics that have made her famous. In the meantime, we were already discussing colonial literature: it was Sigüenza y Góngora—Sor Juana’s best friend—who wrote about the history of the Jesús María Convent. Epiphany could arrive any moment now.

Then Raúl noted that some of the best Arab restaurants in Mexico City were still located in La Merced. Not long ago, I ate at one of them and they still speak Arabic in the kitchen, despite the fact that most of the family members who wait on you are second or third generation already.

One block from here is El Miguel, Margo says. The best place to eat ram’s heart, Raúl adds. My mama adored it, she responds, we would always come to El Miguel to eat it. It’s like nothing else, Raúl says. The chauffeur, who seems to be the only one excited by the fact that we’d reached the Mecca of our tiny pilgrimage, exclaims: Look, a cactus is growing out of the roof of that house.

It’s one of the old houses: big windows on the first floor, scarcely visible behind the street vendors’ stands, yet tall enough to be able to identify them as early 17th century. The second floor must have been added later on, probably during the 18th century. It’s in complete ruins. The doors and windows are shuttered and the facade is held up by wooden planks, in hopes of an improbable restoration. I’m guessing that this is your house, Raúl tells her. No, no, no, she answers, it can’t be. We can’t read the number because the sidewalks are filled with stands. It was always like this, Margo says, the drawers in front of the colonial palaces and the masses selling stuff on the street. My parents walked around here in their Russian clothes—my mama used to dress in white during the summer; she made everyone stare. And did your parents have family here? Raúl asked. They had nothing; they came here with five dollars. The family was in Philadelphia, but when they disembarked in Veracruz, my Papa thought people in Mexico were the friendliest in the world, so they came here. Actually, it was because the five bucks wasn’t enough to get them to Philadelphia. In the beginning he sold bread out of a basket on this street. Imagine, he sold bread on installment; then he got a boy to carry the basket on his head while he walked behind him, very elegant, collecting his installments. But they’re enormous houses, I tell her, they’re real palaces, with two or three patios. Yes, but they were divided into vecindades they’d rent them out by the room. The neighbors were very affectionate with us, so they’d invite us to their piñata parties. So immigrants were quickly assimilated by the community in La Merced? They were assimilated immediately; my uncle, who came to take care of Mamá when I was born, they made him a special piñata during his first Christmas posada. He’d just arrived and didn’t know what it was all about, so when he saw how they broke the first piñata he signed right up for the next one. They’d filled it with ashes, and it fell all over him. Catholic, Jewish, it was all the same: the Jesús María parish was across the street there and the synagogue was two blocks away, the first one in Mexico City.

We find a minuscule spot to park in. Well, I guess my house actually is the one that’s falling to pieces, Margo says. The chauffeur’s voice notes that it’s number 42. And there’s no 44? No. Then that must be it. The cactus on the cornice is too much for it not to be your house, Raúl sums up. Let’s take some pictures.

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Detail of Dona Lilia’s altar.

38 JESÚS MARÍA

On the way back to the car, disappointed because the door is blocked and we couldn’t get in, Margo stops by a drawer where they sell clothing. She asks the two ladies in charge if they know who the house next door belongs to. They say it’s been abandoned for a long time. How long have you had this location? she asks them. For many years, the owner says, before that they used to sell gelatins here. Margo’s face lights up: her memory was true. They were really good, she says with all the enthusiasm and fruition of a discoverer of continents. Really good, the lady confirms. They must have been, if 30 years later everyone still remembers them. My mama used to bring me here after dinner, Margo says. The coincidence makes them introduce themselves: the owner of the drawer is called Doña Lilia. Soon afterward, her husband comes out and we all talk. If you like, Doña Lilia tells us, you can visit this house; it’s ours, and yours must have been more or less the same.

In the first interior patio, Margo goes back to the posadas: the balconies were filled with flowers, she says, and they’d hang the piñatas from the second floor; there was a posada in every house every day from December 16th until Christmas. And you attended, even though you were Jewish? Raúl asks. No one cared that we were Jewish. Yet in The Genealogies, she tells of a dramatic time when a wandering gang of Mexican fascists pursued her father across the Zócalo and he was saved by the intervention of a police officer. I suspect that her taste for equivocation is embellished by a tendency to sweeten things, which couldn’t be healthier, in my opinion: knowing what to remember and what to forget. The house is vacant. Doña Lilia and her husband bought it a few years ago in ruins; they restored it, and now they use it as a warehouse and for family gatherings.

Houses weren’t like this, Margo says. Many, many families lived in each one. We rented a single room, but it was immense and had the highest ceilings I’ve ever seen.

They escort us through the house. Half of the apartment I live in with my wife and two sons, which is quite roomy for current Mexico City standards, would fit inside the upstairs bathroom. When I make this comment, Margo indicates that the bathrooms had to be very big because the water heaters ran on firewood. Raúl and I agree in the recording, as if what she’d just said made the least bit of sense to us.

The living rooms and bedrooms are truly immense: between the kitchen and the dining room is a hallway at least 20 yards long. And why don’t you live here? Margo asks Doña Lilia, who has already become the new subject of our interview. The kids don’t want to live downtown, they all bought houses far away. And you? What would we do with so much house? We’d spend all day cleaning.

In one of the bedrooms, Margo is enraptured by a memory: my mama owned a marvelous, French, art deco piece of furniture they bought a few years after they came here and one day, it seemed too old to her and she sold it. She also had a very fine Viennese living room set and got rid of it. Doña Lilia interrupts her reverie: It’s just that back then, we didn’t know any better, we thought antiques were junk.

The tour of the house, gigantic and labyrinthine, seems to cater to a secret meaning we understand upon entering the final room, where mountains of jeans and sweatpants are stored to be sold in the drawer outside. In the most remote corner of the house, underneath a carefully placed blanket, the lady of the house keeps an altar to the dead. She’s been working on it for the past couple of months to have it ready in time for November 2, the date when, according to tradition, the dead of each family return, if an offering is prepared to their liking.

Doña Lilia’s offering is like the scale model of a stage where she has accumulated tiny representations of everything her dead enjoyed in life: miniature bread, chicken with mole sauce, paella, blocks of chocolate, bottles of tequila and rum. She also has skeletons dancing, eating, going for car rides. Everything capable of generating enthusiasm in their daily lives.

On the evening of November first, the altar will be arranged in the dining room of her home and complemented with photographs of all of her dead—which she shows us later on, and who turn out to be many. Before going to bed she and her husband will light candles and surround the altar with platters of real food: bread, fruit, glasses of liquor. They will also set out sugar or chocolate skulls with the names of the living and a pathway of marigold petals connecting the offering to the door so that, before dawn, the spirits of their dead will be able to find the way back to their world: they wouldn’t want them to have too much to drink, get lost, and stay there forever. On the evening of November second, after dining with the entire family, each one of them will eat the sweet skull bearing their name and thus, appropriate their own deaths.

The altars to the dead are a pre-Hispanic tradition that I had thought to be extinct in Mexico City: neither my parents nor my grandparents ever had one at home, and my wife and I began setting them up only when we feared for the loss of our children’s identity during the years we lived in the United States—it wasn’t easy finding those little sugar skulls in Washington, DC. I ask Margo and Raúl if they make altars to the dead and they both look at me as if I’d just inquired about the composition of Saturn’s rings. Margo takes advantage of the conversation to ask Doña Lilia about another altar—a Catholic one—in one of the patios. She explains that the Virgin was already there when they arrived; they simply provide her with fresh flowers. She is Our Lady of Mercy, the one the neighborhood is named after. She’s very pretty, Margo says. She’s got a great body, the lady of the house adds. What do you mean, she’s got a great body? Raúl asks, somewhat shocked. Yes, Doña Lilia says, it’s great, she looks just like María Victoria—an actress whose curves stopped traffic on the streets of Mexico City in the 1940s.

LEAVING LA MERCED

Back in the car, not long after passing another convent, which Margo tells us was founded by Sor Juana for the barefoot nuns during the second half of the 17th century, Raúl notes that the merchandise has become varied beyond any moral standards: behind the stands, leaning against the walls every few yards, are ladies of the night. Margo eyes them curiously. I let her focus on them despite the fact that I’m dying to ask her if it used to be a red light district when she lived there: she’s capable of summoning up a reflection that departs from the landscape of prostitution. Most of her work as a literary critic is grounded in women’s studies and, aside from the essays on Sor Juana that have made her famous, she has also written canonical essays based on the feminine body in Santa, a novel by Federico Gamboa—published in 1900—about a prostitute in Mexico City. Margo turns toward me and asks, See that one? She refers to a very young woman, leaning on a public telephone and covered by something so tiny, it could hardly be called a miniskirt. Yes, I respond, expectantly awaiting her next epiphanic meditation. She’s pigeon-toed, isn’t she? Stifling his laughter, Raúl points out how paradoxical it is that our most elegant writer was born in a neighborhood of hookers. Back then there weren’t any whores, Margo says, then she thinks about it and concedes: Or at least not this early, it’s not even five o’clock yet.

 

Translated from the Spanish by Tanya Huntington.

Álvaro Enrigue, author of two novels, La muerte de un instalador (Joaquín Mortiz Prize, 1996) and El cementerio de sillas (Lengua de Trapo, 2002), and two books of short stories: Virtudes capitales (JM, 1998) and Hipotermia (Anagrama, 2005). Literary editor of Letras Libres, Enrigue has taught at the Universidad Iberoamericana and the University of Maryland.

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BOMB 98, Winter 2007

Featuring interviews with Gabriel Orozco, Gronk, Virginia Fields, Margo Glantz, Salvador Plascencia, Jorge Hernandez, Cherrie Moraga, Doña Julia Julieta Casimiro, Alberto Kalach. 

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