La Lacuna

Section of one of Diego Rivera’s murals from the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City

La Lacuna has just taken me on an amazing journey.  Author Barbara Kingsolver masterfully dabbles in the passionately complex and colorful lives of Mexico’s modernist painters through the voice of the unassuming, slightly passive Harrison Shepherd, an American-Mexican boy living in Mexico’s Districto Federal in the 1930s.  He stumbles upon Diego Rivera’s mural at the Palacio Nacional and lands himself a job as master plaster mixer, done in the same delicate and purposeful way he mixes the masa for pan dulce.   Hearing the stories of Frida and Diego from his vantage point as apprentice and later secretary to exiled Trotsky, Kingsolver weaves us through a magical time in Mexican history in her latest historical fiction, La Lacuna.

A lacuna is the missing part of a manuscript.  A void.  As a well-written work can do, La Lacuna carried me back on a beautiful journey into my own travel archives, recalling moments of my past I had momentarily forgotten.    I too spent time in the fantastically  magical and chaotic Districto Federal, a place I had purposely avoided during my 5 month post-college residence in Mexico yet came to know and appreciate later on through my work with Art Quest.

One of my most memorable moments was visiting Casa de la Malinche, the former house Hernán Cortés shared with his indigenous bride, la Malinche.  Seen as a traitor to her own indigenous community for building ties with the Spaniards because of her bilingual speaking abilities, la Malinche resided in this home with Cortés, now over 500 years old, in Mexico City’s historic and picturesque neighborhood, Coyoacán.  A brownish-red façade and large wooden door gives entry to centuries of history and to the current lives of two lovely artists themselves, Rina Lazo and Arturo García Bustos.  This humble and warm couple were mentees and helpers to that very famous couple, Diego and Frida, just decades ago.  Artists in their own right, they have adorned their home with a colorful history, a living tribute to the flora, fauna, art, and mysticism that is Mexico.  Their home is a historical monument and the treasures within it -a family museum of cherished memories.  I shared tequila and quesadillas with this remarkable couple in the company of my Art Quest travelers and had the privilege of breathing in a bit of history while in the living company of it.

Tour through Casa de La Malinche via this article written by an acquaintance of mine, Reed Johnson..

Nelsa and I at Teotihuacan in 2007- standing on the Pyramid of the Sun with the Pyramid of the Moon in the background

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~ by maureenmoore on January 25, 2010.

2 Responses to “La Lacuna”

  1. Hi, Mo! Wow, I had to check and re-check, but sure enough, this is the same book I purchased for Thomas for Christmas. YOUR review should have been on the back of the book. Now I must remmeber to ask Thomas if he read it yet?!

  2. Would love to hear what he thinks!

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