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ALMUDENA GRANDES's Las Edades de Lulu (The Ages of Lulu) won the Sonrisa Vertical Prize for erotic fiction and was made into a film starring Javier Bardem. Grandes's novel Los Aires Difï¿½ciles debuted in the number one spot on Spanish bestseller lists when it was published in 2002, and remained on the lists for five months. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages.
This first-person narrative follows the modern sexual exploits of Lulu, beginning with her teenage sexual initiation with her brother's older friend Pablo and continuing up to her mid-thirties. Lulu, whose experiences seem to come from the pen of the Marquis de Sade, is totally obsessed and dominated by Pablo. Despite Pablo's compulsive involvement with young girls, they marry and have a daughter named Ines. Lulu seeks her own sexual gratification, which involves transvestites, prostitution, sodomy, and sadomasochism. A nightmarish party, orchestrated by Pablo, accompanied by a variety of violent and sadistic episodes concludes this debut work of erotica that comes from a world of fantasy where our present-day fear of AIDS and other diseases doesn't exist. Although Grandes's writing is serviceable, the plot is not very compelling, and the characterizations are shallow even by erotica standards. The pornographic descriptions may offend many readers. Not essential for most collections.-David A. Beronä, Westbrook Coll. Lib., Portland, Me.
Set in Madrid, this luridly inventive first novel strives to shock but instead proves that a woman's quasi-pornographic erotic fiction can be as mechanical, repetitive, graphic and cerebral as men's contribution to the genre. The story follows the sexual awakening of narrator Lulu, seduced at age 15 by an old family friend, Pablo, who poses as her guardian and then as her father, and who ultimately marries her. Echoes of Sade and The Story of O abound as Lulu has sex with her schoolmistress; enjoys a threesome with Pablo and a transvestite; obsessively beds homosexual men; is blindfolded, tied down and gang-raped; and then is raped by her brother Marcelo. Lulu's struggle to free herself of brutal, alcoholic Pablo's smothering grip, and her fitful concern for her small daughter, Ines, who seems utterly lost and insignificant amid the assorted sexual frenzies, are perfunctory plot elements in an overly busy narrative that reveals an almost fetishistic obsession with sadomasochism, bondage, oral sex, sodomy, depilation, masturbation, voyeurism and so forth. (July)