Friday, January 06, 2006

Booknote: Mujeres Alteradas

Title: Mujeres Alteradas
Author: Maitena Burundarena
Publication Information: Buenos Aires, Argentina: Sudamericana, 2004
ISBN: 950-07-2354-9 (vol. 1), 950-07-2355-7 (vol. 2), 950-07-2356-5 (vol. 3), 950-07-2357-3 (vol. 4), 950-07-2337-9 (vol.5)
Genre: Humor
Subgenre: Comic strips

I saw this in a review (I think it was in Criticas, but not sure now), and right away I got them for our library. It was well worth it. The title translates as "Altered Women," and Maitena defines that in terms of how women have changed, how their lives progress, for to alter is to change. Yet there is a little bit of play in the word as well for "alterada" can be close in meaning to "histerica" (hysterical) or "stressed." The art is simple and colorful, and it complements the humorous text very well. My only regret is that this is not available in English translation to share it more with some of my colleagues and friends. Maitena looks at women, their relations, their families, their situations, and she basically depicts a universal language. Whether she makes a cartoon about "Four Reasons Why People Should Not Marry" (vol. 1) or "Why Can't Women Do_____?" (vol. 3), when we read them, we laugh, but we also see a bit of truth and reality. The books are great fun to read, and the pace is easy and fast. Each volume averages about 80 pages, so you can pick one or all up at the same time. There is no need to read them in order.

Only two very small caveats. One, there are some words from Argentinian Spanish, which some readers outside that area may not recognize. However, I found most of them you recognize from context. For instance, apparently "lolas" is a term for "breasts" much like we might say "tits." Second, some of the strips have nude women, so if a cartoon female figure bothers you, you may want to stay away. However, it is part of the art. For instance, when she is depicting the travails of women and clothes (trying out new clothes, dealing with fashions), sex, relationships, etc. Let me be honest, ordinarily I would not feel the need to give such a caveat, but given the climate in some parts of the United States, I figure I better do so. To be blunt, if a pair of cartoon "lolas" offends you, go find some Peanuts instead. This is a book for adults. Overall, I cannot recommend this series highly enough for a good laugh. I think it may make good reading for couples as well as for single people. Definitely recommended for any public library with a large Spanish reading population. I think the books may also work with some introductory Spanish classes in college. I know now I would have liked to use some of it when I was teaching Spanish many years ago.

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