Last night I read Bonsai, a wonderful novella by Alejandro Zambra and apparently the next installment in the Latin American project. I didn’t know it at the time, but there is a strong connection to Madame Bovary. The young lovers at the beginning of the novel like to read to each other, and that is one of the novels they choose.

They argued, as dilettantes the world over have at some time argued, over the first chapters of Madame Bovary. They classified their friends and acquaintances as to whether they were like Charles or Emma, and they also argued over whether they themselves were comparable to the tragic Bovary family. In bed there was no problem, as they both made great efforts to seem like Emma, to be like Emma, follar like Emma, as doubtlessly, they believed, Emma shagged exceptionally well, and would have shagged even better in current conditions; in Santiago de Chile, at the end of the twentieth century, Emma would have shagged even better than in the book.

There is much more, and a very Bovary-esque ending that was a bit of a surprise. I’ll be writing about the book “for reals,” probably next week, but I must say that I loved it.

3 comments to Apropos

  • Intriguing! I don’t know – WOULD Emma be good in bed? It seems like she’d at least be…enthusiastic. I’m afraid she’d act like a porn star & be very distracting.

  • It was a surprising sentiment to me too! I imagine most of her enthusiasm would go toward looking good, myself. Though I suppose it is the one time where she is successfully able to lose herself in passion.

  • Sufficiently intriguing that I’ll look out for this one. Thanks for the excerpt; Emma in twentieth century Chile is interesting to contemplate. Of course, she would shag better in those circumstances, compared to provincial France of 150 years ago.