I’ve come to expect surprises from author Liliana V. Blum. I’ve been impressed by her ability to concisely draw interesting and consistent characters with whom I can easily identify, but just when I think I know where she’s headed, she’s always a step ahead of me. I was certain this time that the surprise was that Pandora was a love story… Well, maybe it is, but if so, it’s certainly the most horrific love story I’ve ever read.
The story revolves around the competition for the affections of Gerardo, a handsome, successful doctor in a hospital in an unnamed city in Mexico. The female staff members view him as the perfect man, and many pursue him, despite his apparently perfect marriage to Abril, and their perfect twins. Meanwhile, Gerardo, a gynecologist, has become so desensitized and withdrawn that on an outing to a strip club, he wants to write a prescription for one of the dancers.
The 2 women in Gerardo’s life are Abril and Pandora. Abril spends her scarce free time exercising and dieting, because she constantly feels she doesn’t deserve her exalted role as wife and mother of the children of such a handsome, successful man. Gerardo actually finds Abril physically repugnant, but his communication skills are such a disaster that he has allowed a terrible but correctible tension to build between them for many years.
Pandora has experienced a lifetime of obesity. She has accepted this as her lot in life, but the author explores in considerable depth the emotional toll of a lifetime of pain, humiliation and anonymity that go hand in hand with being morbidly obese. When Pandora inadvertently triggers an obsession in Gerardo, she is extraordinarily vulnerable, and emotionally unprepared for the course of events he initiates. The Pandora metaphor is highly appropriate. When she opens the box, all manner of human evils emerge, building to a memorable climax.
As a man, I would have liked to understand Gerardo better, but the book isn’t really about him. It’s about the women. It’s about the lines they draw between love and obsession, between sacrifice and abuse. It’s about pain and yearning, about communication and the all but unbelievable things we are prepared to do for love.
This is a powerful book, and one that will stay with me for a long time. Liliana Blum just keeps growing stronger as a writer.
Gerardo es un hombre que parece tener todo en la vida: es un respetado ginecólogo que ha logrado ascender económica y socialmente gracias a su profesión; tiene una bella esposa capaz de hacer lo necesario para que él no la abandone; es padre de un par de gemelos a los que adora. Sin embargo, siente que su vida es árida y aburrida; le falta el placer que se despliega en fantasías, hasta que se topa con Pandora, quien no tiene nada que perder ante el rechazo social y familiar que sufre por su inmensa gordura e inseguridad. Sumergido en el gozo de su parafilia, Gerardo no sabe de límites e incluso el riesgo parece un elemento excitante en su nueva vida, y al acariciar y perderse en ese voluptuoso y voluminoso cuerpo que con tanto esmero cultiva, comienza a sentir que ahí está todo lo que él necesita. Mientras, Pandora va cayendo en un abismo en el que parece no hay posibilidad de retornar, víctima de sus propios vacíos.