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First Love & Look for My Obituary: Two Novellas by Elena Garro Paperback – October 1, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These two novellas by prize-winning Mexican author Garro are about love, loneliness, and desperation. The first novella takes place in France just after World War II. Two reclusive tourists, a mother and her small daughter, befriend a group of German prisoners whom they pass each day. The story develops around the love that both the mother and the daughter feel for one prisoner in particular and their willingness to defy public opinion on his behalf and on the behalf of his fellow prisoners. The second novella concerns the chance meeting and ensuing love affair between a young woman named Irene and the somewhat older Miguel, who are both part of the same elite social circle but who are nonetheless complete strangers to each other. Miguel knows nothing about Irene but believes her to be the antidote to his unhappy life. Both stories vividly depict the inner lives of their main characters. Well worth reading; recommended for all libraries.?Rebecca A. Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., Iowa
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"...extremely well written and competenly translated." -- Jerusalem Post

"Mexico's finest." -- Jerusalem Post

"The novellas' power comes...from their comelling depiction of the chaotic postwar world." -- American Book Review

"This small book stands out in the landscape of contemporary Mexican fiction." -- Dallas Morning News

"[Both stories] cover emotional affairs and present haunting scenarios of politics and change." -- Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Curbstone Press; 1st edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880684519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880684511
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The late Elena Garro, whose reputation in her native Mexico was nothing short of brilliant, presents in this brief collection (both novellas are translated by David Unger) two very unconventional love stories. In First Love, the love in question is a German prisoner of war in post-WWII France, who befriends mother and daughter tourists amid the disapproval of the local folk. Trapped in an unhappy marriage and thankful for the break from domestic life, mother Barbara soon cannot deny her attraction to the soldier while her daughter (also named Barbara) feels an infatuation for the same man which is the catalyst for her growth into a mature young woman.
Look For My Obituary is not as straightforward a tale as its predecessor. This story tells of a young husband and father, unhappy in an arranged marriage, whose passion is awakened by a beautiful, mysterious stranger. With relentless determination he pursues this woman, though is careful not to cause scandal within his own loveless union, until his clandestine meetings with his love end with her "death"--her printed obituary is really an announcement of her own arranged marriage.
Though a brief look into one aspect of Latin American life, First Love & Look for My Obituary offers powerful sociological commentary and is evidence of Garro's own concern for the mistreatment of women in her culture. Garro writes with an eloquence accented with her Mexican heritage, yet both stories are not too immersed as to be confusing to those unfamiliar with the culture. Those with an interest in multicultural literature will find this volume to be a good primer.
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By A Customer on November 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Two Novellas is a small book with big ideas. Garro addresses very similar ideas in the two novellas, which is why they are published together. In the first novella, First Love, a young girl and her mother, both named Barbara, while on vacation in Paris befriend against everyone's advice a group of German soldiers who are working on a railroad just after World War II. Both mother and daughter are attracted to one of them men named Sigfried, for different reasons. Everyone tells them not to go around these German scoundrels, and the reader knows there will be trouble coming, although exactly what kind of trouble comes is very surprising. In First Love Garro primarily explores the perceptions and stereotypes held by society, and the way these intercept individual freedom. In the second novella, Look For My Obituary, an unhappily married Mexican man named Miguel enconters a frail and lovely girl named Irene, who appears to him out of nowhere and makes his life seem so much better. Miguel wants to run away with Irene because he is desperately in love with her, but she keeps warning him there is danger to come. In Look for My Obituary, Garro explores the theme of marriage as a prison which takes away from the individual's desires and freedoms.
Although the plots are quite different, many of themes in the two novellas are similar. Both novellas deal with the themes of love and death, which are two cornerstone themes of all literature. Both could have technically been titled "First Love": Irene and Miguel discovered love for the first time as did the two Barbaras and Sigfried. Also, both deal with the prohibition of love as well as the constraints of marriage, and the freedom that this social institution takes away from individuals, in terms of their own desire and love.
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