Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Haghenbeck

Among Frida Kahlo's personal effects, there was a little black book called "The Hierba Santa Book."

This is the beginning of a preface or prologue, and my natural inclination is to skip it. It's all in italics, which is annoying. It goes on to explain that this book contained a recipe collection for offerings on the Day of the Dead which is a day when the dead have permission to return to the earth. This book was supposed to be part of an exhibit but vanished. This insert is short at about a page. So this humble beginning gets a definite pass as it establishes a neat premise and introduces some conflict.

Chapter 1:

That night in July wasn't like any other; the rains had gone, leaving a starry sky free of careless clouds weeping tears on the city's residents.

Sigh. There's only one thing worse than a weather report and that's a poetic weather report. The next sentence, which finishes the first paragraph insists on continuing with the weathery narrative using personification to give us a better understanding of wind. That first paragraph does nothing to hook. It does not even hint at a specific place. No character and no conflict. Nothing except words. Only those with insomnia who watch the weather channel at night will love this opening.

First thing said:

"I called you because I need you to take a message to my Godmother."

This is a hard one to rate. The opening prologue hooks but the reader is allowed to walk away with the help of a weather report opening, a cliché opening that really bugs me and never ceases to fail.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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