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Authors: W. Paul Anderson

Tags: #Fiction, #General

Hunger's Brides

BOOK: Hunger's Brides
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praise for
HUNGER
'
S BRIDES

Winner of the Writers Guild of Alberta
Georges Bugnet Award for Novel

A 2005 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book

Nominated for the Regional Commonwealth
Writers' Prize for Best First Book

Nominated for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize

“Hunger's Brides
is an instant collector's item.” —
Toronto Star

“This is an extraordinary debut, with depth of detail and narrative skill presented effortlessly throughout its staggering length. Highly recommended.” —
Library Journal
(starred review)

“Hunger's Brides
is a beautiful monster that resists, often with brilliance, the unforgiving logics of myopic inquisition.”
—Calgary Herald

“Hunger's Brides
realizes its ambitions, taking the reader on a journey spanning 350 years and bringing to life one of the greatest literary figures of the 17th century.” —
Publishing News
(UK)

“Hunger's Brides
, one of the biggest gambles in Canadian publishing, is one of the most remarkable books in recent memory…. A taut, challenging novel of ideas. The dozen years Anderson spent on the book are readily apparent on each page. Even at over 1,300 pages …
Hunger's Brides
never feels too long…. Anderson's debut stands proudly alongside such works as Gabriel García Márquez's
One Hundred Years of Solitude
and Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy.” —
Quill & Quire

“Calgary writer Paul Anderson is after far more than an imagining of the hidden life of a writer. The novel attempts nothing less than an apocalyptic anatomizing of modernity … Both the Juana and Gregory narratives contain some fine, memorable scenes, but what the author does with the Beulah sections is let language loose, and the result is startling, at times frightening and often beautiful. Everything and everyone Beulah encounters becomes raised to epiphany by the caustic intensity of her vision…. It becomes clear, through the verbal energy of these passages, that the greatest achievement of Anderson's novel (and perhaps its true subject) is in the evocation of the teeming, sordid pageant of Mesoamerica: its mythic, blood-soaked history, its geography of extremes, the holocaust of its cities and its people. Through Beulah's eyes, Mexico becomes emblematic of Western civilization, and what we have done to ourselves by inheriting the ethos of the conquistadors and becoming technological masters of the planet.” —
The Globe and Mail

“Like Molly Bloom on peyote. Anderson has an uncanny knack for writing believable female characters filled with both self-love and self-loathing. Sitting helplessly by while the remarkable Beulah tears her own heart out made for one of the most harrowing reading experiences I've had in a while…. Anderson writes as the best painters paint—with clarity, finesse and infinite suggestion…. All this beauty is worth the trip. The many trips.” —
Vancouver Sun

“The
grace
and the poetry of the presentation draw readers in and introduce them to the world of 17th-century Mexico—not just the Spanish world, but the Indian. It is, among other things, a short course in Mexican Indian mythology. It is also, at the beginning, the story of a brilliant little girl and the beloved grandfather who nurtures her intelligence…. An astoundingly beautiful book.” —Canadian Press

“Hunger's Brides
is one of those rare novels—there are no more than a handful of them in the modern history of the form—that will reshape our notions of what it is possible to do with fiction and history, with myth, legend and language; and, above all, with character…. And, as with every good novel—and
Hunger's Brides
is much more than simply good—this book will change your life.” —
Winnipeg Free Press

for Satsuki
   
                        

C
ONTENTS

Prologue

Echo
BOOK ONE

Isis
BOOK TWO

Sappho
BOOK THREE

Phoenix
BOOK FOUR

Horus
BOOK FIVE

Phaëthon
BOOK SIX

Epilogue

Timeline

Notes

Acknowledgements

 

Hunger's Brides
   

This is the patent age of new inventions

For killing bodies, and for saving souls …

B
YRON
,
Don Juan

P
ROLOGUE

W
HEN THE DOCUMENTS
that have become this book came into my hands, my first thought was not of evening the score. I felt panic—and removed a manuscript about to implicate me in the carnage in that room. But as I began to see what a very small part I played in her story, dread and agitation gave way to relief. Then, to a certain indignation.

Beulah Limosneros had been a brilliantly accomplished protégée of mine, even as she spent her every spare moment researching the great seventeenth-century Mexican poet Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648–1695). That Beulah became obsessed with Sor Juana is understandable. Of all the giants of world literature, her story is among the most captivating. A child prodigy who taught herself to read at three, she went from a farm in the wilds of Old Mexico to the very pinnacle of Spanish literature, emerging as the last great poet of its golden age. As a teenager she dazzled the New World's most sumptuous court and lived as an intimate of its vice-queen. Proto-feminist and slave owner, theologian and musical theorist, fabled beauty and nun—for twenty-five years she championed, against the unrelenting attacks of Church patriarchs, a woman's right to a life of the mind. Sor Juana defended also a nun's right to compose exquisitely sensuous and lucid poetry. And in doing so herself, she repeatedly defied her confessor, the Chief Censor for the Holy Inquisition. Her writing career unfolds between the mystery of a sudden flight from palace to cloister and the enigma of a final spiritual testament signed in blood.

A worthy research subject. But during Beulah's time with me, her notes, historical oddments and lyrical fabrications concerning Sor Juana came to look less and less like scholarship until, at the end, the work was more like a lurid cross between novel of ideas and tell-all biography. In this, my part was not so small. Now, with nothing but time on my hands, I've decided to edit and emend her unfinished manuscript. I've done it to set the record straight, perhaps to right a few wrongs.

At the outset, though, my intent had been to set her little pearl in such a way as to reveal all its eccentricities. Even she thought of it as baroque. Taking my cue from Beulah's own early work, I settled on the format of literary biography, finding this suited to my own, more
modest, talents. I've extended the story's reach, however, to embrace not just Sor Juana but Beulah too. I have used every resource at my disposal and many that should not have been: Beulah's diary, her dream record, her diet journals.

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