Faces in the Crowd is the first book I read from the Mexican author Valeria Luiselli. And I think it’ll remain the only book for a long time.
I’ve heard great things about it, so I was excited to read it. But unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d like. Still, I can say that the author has a different style and a fascinating mind.
Faces in the Crowd blend three different stories. A married woman with children in Mexico is trying to write a novel about Gilberto Owen. On the one hand, we learn something about her family; on the other hand, I think we read small memories of her youth in New York. I can only say I think because this young woman can be a completely different character. We read Owen himself in the third story. These three are connected to each other with Ezra Pound, but the Pound is a small detail.
As the book progresses, these three stories get mixed up; you don’t even understand who or what you read after a while. That is why I read this for a long time, although it is short. It feels as if the author did not know what to write after a while, and it is frustrating. When I finished the book, I realized that it gave me nothing, and I was glad that it was over.
This novel was not for me. But I also understand why some people like it so much. Until this time, if our book tastes are somewhat similar, I think you will not like this book. But if you want to read a different author from Mexico, and enjoy metafiction, you may enjoy it.
Faces in the Crowd
In Mexico City, she is a mother and wife who no longer leaves the house. In New York City, she was a young editor who rarely slept in her own bed. As her new existence begins to disintegrate around her, she thinks back to her life on the fringes of the literary scene, the strangers who became lovers, the poets who became ghosts. And, increasingly now, she is haunted by one of the obsessions of her youth: the obscure Mexican poet, Gilberto Owen – a marginal figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a friend and an enemy of Federico Garcia Lorca, a busker on the Manhattan subway platform who was himself haunted by the ghostly image of a young woman on a passing train…By turns lyrical, smart and disarmingly funny, Faces in the Crowd explores the smudged borders between past and present, fake and real, there and not.
Valeria Luiselli is a Mexican author living in the United States. She is the author of the book of essays Sidewalks and the novel Faces in the Crowd, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: