Translated by Dick Cluster, Marina Harss, Mark Schafer and Alan West-Duran
Marta Veneranda, a Latina nuyorkina, finds that she inspires the confessional in people. In fact, when people come to her, they feel the need to reveal their most embarrassing and shameful stories. And through these reluctantly told tales, where characters enter and leave each other's narrations, Rivera-Valdes revisits and questions our most basic behavioral assumptions.
In "Little Poisons," the narrator shares with Marta the minutiae of her self-help-book-assisted liberation from her philandering husband, whom she will eventually poison to death, and whose mistress she will befriend: "In the fifteen years of marriage he would tell me everything, even about his sexual escapades—if he couldn't share them with me, who would he share them with? Besides, that way no one could come running to me spreading rumors."
Beneath the humor is a dead-serious scrutiny of the commingling of Anglo and Latino cultures. At heart, The Forbidden Stories of Marta Veneranda are an exposé of the comforts and discomforts of that cohabitation.