Luisa Valenzuela/BEDSIDE MANNERS


By Luisa Valenzuela
Serpent's Tail
122 pp.;$12.99

Los Angeles Times Sunday February 5, 1995Home EditionBook Review, Page 6Type of Material: Column; Book Review
Occasionally, one comes across a piece of writing thatfeels as if it had been stuck in the wrong format like a Rottweiler withpainted toenails. Entire books of nonfiction sometimes would have beenmore effective as a magazine article, and (though this is more rare) I'veseen characters in a short story practically begging for the easyspaciousness of a novel. There is nothing really wrong with the format ofLuisa Valenzuela's, "Bedside Manners," but, still, one may get thefeeling that somewhere inside this novel, a really wonderful one act playis dying to be seen.
Valenzuela' surreal, farcical, story takes place in a woman's room ata country club somewhere in Latin America. The woman has returned to herhomeland after many years to find it is about to be taken over byright-wing militia who have set up their training grounds directlyoutside her window. Groups of soldiers convene in her room, whiledisembodied, hungry hands appear from under the bed to steal her food.The woman is very passive through most of this. "And she's just about tolook under the bed to unveil the mystery, with that old, fearfulchildhood feeling of wanting and not wanting to look. I never do anycooking anyway, so don't worry, she says again, to placate possiblemonsters. . . ." "Bedside Manners" is a novel where identities changeagain and again, confusion reigns and everyone seems trapped and unhappy.Sort of like government.

Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times, 1995.

TAYLOR, ERIKA, IN BRIEF; FICTION; Home Edition., Los Angeles Times, 02-05-1995, pp 6.