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The incantation of Frida K.
Kate Braverman
Adult Fiction BRAVERM

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Poet, short story writer and novelist Braverman (Lithium for Medea) delivers a wildly energetic, nearly hallucinatory account of Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and wife of Diego Rivera. Frida is 46 and on her deathbed, addicted to morphine, Demerol, cigarettes and alcohol, and missing one leg from an amputation. Her memory is acute, though her chronology is foggy; in ecstatic prose she recounts the salient events of her adult life. At the age of 17, she suffers a horrific trolley accident and is impaled by a metal pole, which leaves her sterile, mutilated and more or less a pariah. Diego Rivera, the famous painter of monumental public works, notices her when she brings him lunches on his scaffolding; they marry and he transforms her into an international Marxist statement, parading her around the world in childlike peasant costumes. They are a wealthy, notorious "vaudeville team": Diego, ambitious and chronically unfaithful, belittles Frida's own paintings as "less than postcards," while foulmouthed Frida, raw from pain and addiction, scorns him as having the "heart of a butcher." Braverman keeps her jagged narrative from self-destructing by adhering to specific themes: Frida's desire for a daughter, as well as her personal and professional excoriation. Braverman's portrait of the "vanished woman" including her cartoonish recreation of encounters Frida allegedly has with Trotsky and his wife may put some readers off, but her work is commendably bold and strenuously imaginative, as befits her iconic subject. 3-city author tour. (Apr. 17) Forecast: More than one fictional portrait exists of Frida Kahlo. Most recent is the novel Frida, by Barbara Mujica (Overlook, 2000; paperback Plume 2002), which would make an interesting pairup with Braverman's work in bookstore displays. All Kahlo-themed books, fiction and nonfiction, will get a boost this spring with the release (also in April) of Julie Taymor's film Frida, starring Salma Hayak. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Braverman's literary genius shines here as she takes on the voice of Frida Kahlo, which emerges with the luminous and haunting tone one would imagine the late Mexican artist would have. Gleaning inspiration from Kahlo's paintings, as well as her afflicted romance with Diego Rivera, Braverman (Lithium for Medea) clearly understands the tortured existence of the artist. She evokes the physical and emotional strain that Kahlo struggled with since an accident at age 17 and that ultimately defined who she became as a human and an artist. Her life is told through short, poetic sentences, creating an erratic tone, which, although unnerving, lends credibility to the prose. It is clear that Braverman has done her homework, no doubt studying Kahlo's letters and diaries, which have been published in the past ten years. Indeed, lines such as "I've transcended canvas....I'm working in a region of absence" seem to spill directly from Kahlo herself, showing that Braverman's talent lies not only with language but with imagination. Although this is a tumultuous and disturbing story, it is a refreshing reminder that Kahlo is emerging as an important and recognizable figure in the Surrealist movement apart from her husband. Throughout, Braverman achieves for Kahlo what Kahlo could never fully achieve for herself: recognition as an artist in her own right and not just Rivera's pretty Mexican wife. Rachel Collins, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Frida Kahlo
Age: 46
Hungarian Mexican

Diego Rivera
Age: 68
Frida's husband; muralist.

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