3 out of 4 stars
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A Redhead and a Rebel Poet is a fascinating collection of short fiction by Venezuelan author Jose Talleyrand Rodriguez. A major theme running throughout the stories is women doing what they must to survive. The fact that the author utilizes his literary skills to criticize the way that women continue to be objectified and treated as second-class citizens in the twenty-first century was the aspect of the book that I liked best.
In the titular story, there is a question as to whether the nameless redhead who inspired the rebel poet, Damián Arrizabalaga, is a real person or a fictional character created to inspire the rebels. Either way, she holds men in her sway and leaves behind a trail of dead bodies.
In “Rita Maria, Led Zeppelin, and The Welser,” the titular character, Rita Maria, argues that Led Zeppelin’s song “Whole Lotta Love” reduces the female body to an object that seeks or gives pleasure. In “La Adelita,” the titular character gains the upper hand on the corrupt industrialist Néstor Arreaza-Bosch, who purchased her as a sex slave.
Other stories in the book are unrelated to the core theme. “Corpses” features a tale where exact duplicates of deceased historical icons are being brought into a morgue. “A Kite” tells the story of a Papagayo flying over a city, the sight of which inspires each viewer to take various life-altering actions.
The stories in this book are compelling, enjoyable, and well-written. This is a revised edition of the book, which I reviewed previously. The new edition has removed many of the spelling and grammar errors that existed in the first edition, although a few typos remain, and I still felt that the paragraphs in “A Kite” were too long.
The typos were the only aspect of the book that I disliked, but this is a minor quibble. They weren’t severe enough to disrupt my enjoyment of the stories. I would easily rate the book four out of four stars for the quality of the stories, and the author did fix quite a few issues that were present in the first edition. However, I feel that there are enough minor errors remaining that my score for this book remains three out of four stars.
I recommend A Redhead and a Rebel Poet for readers who enjoy intense, gritty short stories. The violence and erotic content in the book is not particularly graphic, but readers who would prefer to avoid violent and sexual scenes would be advised to give this book a pass.
A Redhead and a Rebel Poet
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