GLR September-October 2022

novel’s first mystery. A tangential connection to Mistral is hinted at later in the narrative and points to a second theme of the novel, presented as the theory of physicist Erwin Schrö dinger that “the fact that particles have interacted once means they keep their connection forever.” The presence of street art is once again asserted in a meeting between Juliana and Mar garita 64 years later at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, an Upper West Side landmark with a poster at the entrance reading “Ex pect a Miracle Every Day.” A fourth character is Elizabeth, who has deliberately aban doned her wealthy Long Island friends and family and sought anonymity and learning in an apartment near Columbia. Her chapters are rendered in a series of letters written to her friend Kristina in 1946. The theme of disappearance is overt here, and Elizabeth repeatedly instructs Kristina to burn her letters after reading them so that her family won’t find her. It is only in the last few pages of this section that we learn something unex pected about Kristina in a novel that’s full of surprises. For ex ample, we learn that Elizabeth is tangentially connected to Juliana and Doris from a previous section. A colorful array of secondary figures populates the novel and propels the story. During her sojourn in NewYork, Doris is having an affair with Aline, a childhood friend and bohemian socialite who is, coincidentally, Elizabeth’s sister. Anne, the se

curity guard at Margarita’s building on 119th Street, dominates the second half of the novel even though she has intentionally disappeared when we meet her in Margarita’s chapters. After her mother Lucy enlists Margarita’s help in discovering Anne’s whereabouts, the novel assumes the pace and urgency of a mys tery, heightened by the inclusion of a chapter with Margarita and Lucy that’s written entirely in dialogue. At another key point in the narrative, the author introduces the elaboration of Schrödinger’s theory by Argentine physicist Juan Maldacena, who postulated that “two particles that have been in contact are not only connected ... but are always close.” This principle points to the relationships of all of the figures who appear in this suggestive novel. Certain enigmas are clarified; some secrets are revealed or explored. Others remain mysterious. And the sense of the not yet understood hovers everywhere. Readers may be propelled through the pages of this slim vol ume out of a need to solve its many puzzles. The novel’s appeal also lies in its skillful mastery of form, the abundance of its lit erary and artistic reference points, and the ultimate open-end edness of its conclusions. It is as though Guelfenbein were a street performer twirling several plates in the air at once. And when the novel closes and the plates come down, the audience comes away feeling satisfied yet still curious, awaiting the next project of this very talented, provocative writer.

B R I E F S bisexual. Meanwhile, his grandmother, after being widowed, had a close relationship, perhaps an intimate one, with another

the same period. St. Petersburg had its ho mosexual underground composed of johns and hustlers, bathhouse attendants and sol diers. Homosexuals wore red, or a yellow flower, to signify their tastes. They cruised in various locations that the police were well aware of. Policemen and pederasts lived in a kind of symbiosis—the former sometimes even taking the latter’s part to quash blackmail attempts. They rarely prosecuted anyone for sodomy—because the judicial system was so slow. The result was a détente that seems to have been sen sible and civilized. But be warned: this is not a book for the general reader. The romantic subject matter is wrapped in a post-Foucaultian vocabulary that may leave some readers wishing they could skip the analysis and just read the dossiers, the diaries, and the novel written by Kuzmin (titled Wings ). A NDREW H OLLERAN

ABUELA IN SHADOW, ABUELA IN LIGHT Rigoberto González Univ. of Wisconsin Press. 184 pages, $22.95 This is the most recent of several memoirs by poet and critic Rigoberto González, whose Autobiography of My Hungers was reviewed in the Sept.-Oct. 2013 issue of this magazine. As with his previous memoirs, González avoids repetition by focusing on specific individuals in his large Mexican-American family. In this case, it’s his abuela (grandmother), a member of the Purépecha tribe from Michoacán, Mexico. He remembers her as loving and caring, though not at all demonstrative. He and his brother were sent to live with her and her husband (a physically violent man) in California, and he spent most of his adolescence with them, often traveling back to Michoacán. There he was warned against “predatory homosexuals” lurking at night. González says that he never found any; the only homosexual out there was himself. Along with other members of his family, he was subjected to sexual abuse when growing up. He knew that an uncle was one of the perpetrators, but a conspiracy of silence engulfed the family. González was able to get away to the University of California-Riverside, where he developed an entirely new persona, joined a folkloric dance company, and believed he was

woman. González reflects on how she had defied gender norms throughout her life, and in old age was living out her destiny. M ARTHA E. S TONE PLACES OF TENDERNESS AND HEAT The Queer Milieu of Fin-de-Siècle St. Petersburg by Olga Petri Cornell Univ. Press. 254 pages, $48.95 Olga Petri’s new book about cruising in late 19th-century St. Petersburg, Russia, uses “historical geography”—the study of build ings, streets, squares—to bring to life a dis tant time and place. Cruising sites included Nevsky Prospect, the Anichkov Bridge (nicknamed “The Bridge of Eighteen Testi cles” for its statues of horses and men), the Tavricheskii Gardens, the Passazh shopping arcade, and numerous public bathhouses. Mixed into the “spatial relations” are a few narratives: a man whose lover has left him goes to the police to declare him a missing person; an anonymous bureaucrat creates a dossier based on his observations on homo sexual cruising; a poet-novelist-flâneur named Mikhail Kuzmin keeps a diary of his wanderings. The result is a portrait of St. Petersburg that’s reminiscent of London and Paris in

HOUSE FIRE: Stories and Poems by Jim Nawrocki 7.13 Books. 186 pages, $19.99

Jim Nawrocki, whose book reviews ap peared in every issue of this magazine for many years, passed away from cancer in 2018. This slim volume gathers his stories and poems into a single volume, and it’s hard not to view his work through the lens of his untimely demise. (His husband Jason

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