The fukú is machismo. It took me a long time to realize that. For a long time I was ineffably enamored of the novel. I knew I loved it, but, when faced with criticism – as I was one day by one of my colleagues, an expert in Latino literature, who found Yunior’s voice merely sexist, infuriatingly self-assured and macho – I found myself at a loss to say why. I hadn’t yet worked through the deep irony of the novel. It was on the surface as broken and postmodern as a Ph.D. in English could want, a fractured collection of incomplete narratives, with almost all the characters consumed by the merciless Angel of History; it was stuffed to bursting with references to geek culture that I reveled in seeing in a “legitimate work of literary fiction”; it was funny the way much Latino humor is funny, fast and black and fearless and savage. But what I loved most about it, inarticulately at first, is that it identifies machismo as a soul-crushing fukú for both women and men. Machismo is a curse that must be broken.
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