Monday, April 26, 2010

What I'm Reading: Fuentes on Seberg

I just finished reading Diana, The Goddess Who Hunts Alone by Carlos Fuentes. 
Early in the novel, it becomes apparent that it's a roman a clef about Fuentes' brief affair with Jean Seberg.

 It's an uncompromising book, brutal at times. It's disturbing, and also invasive - although doubtless the author would point out that it's a work of fiction; also that the real-life person on which it is based is long dead and can no longer be hurt. The former claim doesn't fully hold up - when every other factual detail is unchanged except for names, then why should we doubt the details of 'Diana's' fruit-perfumed sex organs,  her sexual proclivities?
Yet Fuentes earns the right to his material after all. He earns it through the suffering it caused him in the first place. He earns it because it affected him so deeply that he had to purge it many years later, perhaps attempt to understand it through his art. It's a romantic view of creativity, but I doubt he had a choice.

It's an artful book as well, one that offers a brilliantly drawn, subtle portrait of its protagonist. Fuentes' account is generous in its portrayal of Seberg's intelligence, and manages to capture something of the elusive nature of her personal magnetism, beyond mere physicality - the type of woman 'you can't help, change or leave.'

Also, as a side-note, a woman who wore one of the two great, iconic haircuts in all of cinema - Louise Brooks having worn the other.

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