Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.
The Lacuna is the best book I've read since The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Out Stealing Horses. But I have run into a few book group members who are having a hard time getting into the book. My advice is to keep with it at least till you get to Mexico City - once Harrison met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo I couldn't stop reading. The ending is sublime; as the reviewer from the San Francisco Chronicle put it, "The final pages haunt me still."
There is an excellent interview with the author about The Lacuna at her web site - did you know that hardboiled mystery writer Dashiell Hammett was persecuted as a Communist?
Discussion questions for The Lacuna are available at ReadingGroupGuides and LitLovers.
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